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I failed to appear for jury duty - just got my mail
Old 10-17-2009, 08:22 AM   #1
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I failed to appear for jury duty - just got my mail

So I just got a batch of mail from my mail forwarding company. I had put the mail on hold as we transitioned back from Germany and I just recently remembered to tell them to start sending me my mail again.

In the batch I just opened is a Jury Duty Summons and I was apparently supposed to report on August 8th in Florida.

I suppose on Monday I'll call up and explain why I just got it. Do you think I'm in a heap of trouble though? It says on the card that the penalty for not appearing as directed can result in a fine for contempt of court, chapter 40, Florida Statutes.

How much are these fines?

Anywho, something to think about for those that are on the road and using a mail forwarding company. This is my first ever summons for jury duty in my 38 years.

Edit to add: I've never lived in the county where the summons is from, I only use a mail forwarding company there.
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:26 AM   #2
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In the batch I just opened is a Jury Duty Summons and I was apparently supposed to report on August 8th in Florida.

I suppose on Monday I'll call up and explain why I just got it. Do you think I'm in a heap of trouble though? It says on the card that the penalty for not appearing as directed can result in a fine for contempt of court, chapter 40, Florida Statutes.

How much are these fines?

Anywho, something to think about for those that are on the road and using a mail forwarding company. This is my first ever summons for jury duty in my 38 years.

Edit to add: I've never lived in the county where the summons is from, I only use a mail forwarding company there.
Are you in a heap of trouble? Of course not!

For one, you are not a resident of that county, so you are immediately off the hook. Problem solved for you. You might want to call to inform the clerk that you are not a resident so they can get you off the list. The summons also probably has a place to notify the court of same.

Second, you were out of the country at the time and that is easy to prove. You are not going to get into trouble for being out of the country when you get a summons. Just call and explain when you get the notice, no matter how much it was delayed by mail being held, etc.

As a perpetual traveler, I don't worry about this at all. I've been able to notify the court clerk that I was out of state or going to be out of state/county and been able to make alternate arrangements. If I do get a summons late, I'll call also and explain and make other arrangements.

Audrey
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:47 AM   #3
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Thanks. I guess I was just worried that it's been so long since the summons was issued. I was reading online where some areas have been cracking down on people who fail to appear and are issuing arrest warrants.

Of course the cops would roll up to my mail forwarding company and hopefully with a little detective work figure out I don't live in there.

I'll call Monday and try to sort it out.
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Old 10-17-2009, 11:54 AM   #4
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Maybe I should move out of the country to avoid mine. Damn I got till Monday to figure out where to seek amnesty.
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Old 10-17-2009, 02:04 PM   #5
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Maybe I should move out of the country to avoid mine. Damn I got till Monday to figure out where to seek amnesty.
I'd love to go serve if I actually lived there. I think it would be a great experience to serve, at least once.
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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You should be fine explaining it on the call. I had a similar thing happen to me, I was worried, explained what happened, and the lady on the other end said, ok, no problem, we've noted it. That was 25 years ago, the coppers still ain't caught me.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:51 AM   #7
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You do want to make sure to call them and get off their jury list on the off chance that some judge gets a wild hair and decides to issue a bench warrant as has been known to happen. If that happens then the warrant goes into the computer systems and the next time you come into/leave the country your travel plans are interrupted and you get to explain in person after a night as the guest of the county.
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:30 AM   #8
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You do want to make sure to call them and get off their jury list on the off chance that some judge gets a wild hair and decides to issue a bench warrant as has been known to happen.
Yeah, that's what I was afraid could happen, even though I've never even lived in that county. I'll be sure to call first thing Monday morning.
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:47 AM   #9
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In addition to what the other posters stated, the state has to prove you actually received the summons. It is very difficult to do that if they don't require a signature upon receipt.
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:54 AM   #10
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In addition to what the other posters stated, the state has to prove you actually received the summons. It is very difficult to do that if they don't require a signature upon receipt.
Yeah, I was thinking that too. The summons is just a thin folded postcard like thing. Easy enough to get stuck between some junk mail and accidentally thrown out.

If this is how they notify people, I'm sure quite a few people don't get them or accidentally toss them.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:50 AM   #11
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Well, that was one mean Jury Clerk. I just got off the phone.

I called up and politely explained that I received a summons but that I don't reside in that county. She immediately got defensive and aggressive, something I didn't really expect.

Apparently, in this FL county, they pull data from the DMV to get their jury lists. My FL drivers license (which is still valid) has the address of my mail forwarding company on it. I simply changed it online the last time I renewed it. Seemed like a good idea to keep it valid just in case one day I decide to return to the States.

Therefore, she was adamant that I am a legal resident of the county and am not exempt from jury duty. She could not comprehend my explanation and was very rude. She didn't even understand the concept of a mail forwarding company or what they do. To quote her, she said "well I don't know about your mail forward thing."

She claimed this was a problem I need to sort out with the DMV. Eventually, she conceded in an angry tone that if I could prove I didn't live in the county that should suffice. I asked what documentation she would like to see, as I have any document she would like. She just said "anything that proves you don't live in XXX county." So it took some more prodding and me listing different documents outloud that would be acceptable. She clearly had never had anyone in this situation before and I suppose it may be in my best interest to "cancel" my drivers license, if that's possible. That would get me off the list there it seems.

So a bunch of drama over such a simple thing. Now I will have to type up a nice letter and photocopy local documents showing I've lived here in Europe for 3 years and send it all off with registered mail. Just a real pain and she was so rude and didn't at all try to understand my situation.

Sorry to vent, the conversation just happened so it's fresh in my mind.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:10 PM   #12
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If you are a resident of Florida, then you need to have your street address, not your mail forwarding address on your drivers license. Normally whatever address is on your drivers license is considered your resident county.

If you are not a resident of Florida, you might want to get rid of that license. It just muddies the waters in terms of residency.

Do you have a current voters registration card? Did you do absentee voting any time recently? That should be proof enough of residence in another county. This info is for you for the future. Since you've been in Europe for 3 years that is clearly the appropriate proof for your case.

I am a perpetual traveler. I have a street address on my drivers license and voters registration that is a park in TX where we stay at least twice a year, and we have family/storage nearby. We use a mail service for all billing, mail, etc. The DMV has that mailing address as well - which is where they mail the license, but the resident county street address is what is on the license. This is how it is supposed to be done.

If you are a perpetual traveler it is really, really important to keep all these docs straight: auto registration, auto insurance, health insurance, voter registration, drivers license. If they have conflicting addresses things can get unpleasantly complicated at inappropriate moments.

Sorry about the rude clerk, but that address on your drivers license was indeed a huge red flag.

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Old 10-19-2009, 12:36 PM   #13
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If you are a resident of Florida, then you need to have your street address, not your mail forwarding address on your drivers license. Normally whatever address is on your drivers license is considered your resident county.
I was not aware of being a FL resident. I just have the mail forwarding company there. I had no idea the address on a drivers license was directly tied to residency. Now I know.

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If you are not a resident of Florida, you might want to get rid of that license. It just muddies the waters in terms of residency.
I've been looking on the FL DMV website how to "get rid of" my FL drivers license but don't see how. Guess I'll have to call them and try to explain I don't live in Florida and want to cancel it?

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Do you have a current voters registration card? Did you do absentee voting any time recently?
No, I have no ties to the U.S. other than that license and 1 bank account.

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That should be proof enough of residence in another county. This info is for you for the future. Since you've been in Europe for 3 years that is clearly the appropriate proof for your case.
Yes, I can easily prove I live here. Property ownership papers, EU drivers license, bank accounts, bills, etc.

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Sorry about the rude clerk, but that address on your drivers license was indeed a huge red flag.

Audrey
Thanks, I don't know why she had to be so rude. She could have politely explained everything. Yes, I now understand that address on the license is a problem, innocent mistake. I will contact the DMV and try to have my license removed from the DMV system.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:38 PM   #14
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I think mostly that you were dealing with some petty, dim clerk in some backwater county. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I'd take Audrey's advice above. I remember hearing about all sorts of drama with (sailboat) cruisers I knew and getting stuff at their "official" addresses. Sorry that happened!
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:04 PM   #15
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I think mostly that you were dealing with some petty, dim clerk in some backwater county. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I'd take Audrey's advice above. I remember hearing about all sorts of drama with (sailboat) cruisers I knew and getting stuff at their "official" addresses. Sorry that happened!
Thanks! I suppose it is just a pitfall of not living the "standard" life most people lead. Oddly enough, the county isn't really a backwater, but the clerk was certainly petty and dim.

It does seem like official residence would be more tied to property ownership than a drivers license. Oh well, just how it is. I can roll with it.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:09 PM   #16
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Google "motor voter" and you will see how controversial this idea of tying the jury pool to the DMV.
Just don't take it personally that she is uninspired and can't imagine living the life you do.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:13 PM   #17
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The last time I served on Jury Duty (five days of voir dire), the judge issued bench warrants for everyone who did not show up for day two, day three, etc. A cop was to pick the people up, and bring them to the Jury Assembly Room where they were to be available for the next case. Imagine them trying to track you down!
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:17 PM   #18
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If someone is actually an overseas resident, I don't know all the rules - way out of my league.

I should - my sister is one. I think she uses my Dad's address as her residence for voter purposes, etc. If summoned, Dad calls and explains that she is in fact overseas. He also arranges to have voter ballots sent.

There are definitely rules about this - I just don't know what they are. I'm sure we have posters here who do.

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Old 10-19-2009, 01:40 PM   #19
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The last time I served on Jury Duty (five days of voir dire), the judge issued bench warrants for everyone who did not show up for day two, day three, etc. A cop was to pick the people up, and bring them to the Jury Assembly Room where they were to be available for the next case. Imagine them trying to track you down!
A relative said to me something along the lines of "imagine how mad the sheriff will be when he knocks on your door after having traveled THAT far to serve the warrant!"


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There are definitely rules about this - I just don't know what they are. I'm sure we have posters here who do.

Audrey
I'm sure there are too, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be a jury clerk that knows the rule.

What really irked me though was that I'm trying to do the right thing and get this situation sorted out properly, yet the clerk was beyond unhelpful and seemed to be "working against me." I really makes you just want to say F*** It and forget the whole thing. Come get me b*tches.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:42 PM   #20
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Yeah - I get that. There was no reason for her to be rude. Maybe she has to deal with a lot of jury duty dodgers and has gotten bitter. Too bad you were on the receiving end of it.

Audrey
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