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EDITORIAL DOING OUR DUTY.

WHAT happens to people who ignore a jury duty summons?

It used to be that nothing at all happened. It was like voting - most folks know they ought to do it, but the kids/job/traffic just got in the way. Maybe next time.

That's not flying in Los Angeles County anymore as the Superior Court is cracking down on those who skip their jury summons, handing out heavy fines.

``It's our constitutional duty to serve. It is our highest honor,'' said San Fernando Valley Judge Alice C. Hill.

Many may argue that it's not much of an honor to wait around in plastic chairs watching daytime TV, dreading getting called. But Hill is right that it's every able adult's duty to participate, regardless of convenience. (Legitimate hardships are acceptable.)

But more than a duty, it's also a right.

Countless men and women have died over the course of this country's history protecting the basic, inalienable rights - among them the right to a fair trial with a jury of one's peers.

Folks love to complain about the state of the city or state or country, yet few participate in the process at all. They blame it on politicians, saying the leaders are disconnected from the public. In many cases that's true. But that's at least in part due to the disinterest of the populace, which cares more about who wins ``American Idol'' than who wins the local congressional seat.

There's a saying that a society gets the government it deserves. What does a society that doesn't exercise its hard-fought rights deserve?

Jury duty isn't a picnic. But neither is making sure to floss, eating five servings of vegetables every day or getting enough exercise. Still, most folks at least strive toward that ideal because they know it's good for their health.

Jury duty is also good for the health - the civic health.

So next time that summons comes in the mail, don't toss it in the trash, even if the $250 fine seems worth the price. Suck it up and show up.

Not only is it our duty, it is our right.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 6, 2004
Words:352
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