Editors note: This report chronicles an ongoing complaint made by a local citizen regarding his assertion that the Tuolumne County Court is unjustly directing local citizens to a few local right-wing radio stations for juror information. The following is a continuation of his emails.
I took it upon myself to check out the web sites for several other Counties in California.
Specifically, the "jury" pages. I found no other county with the odd reference to a radio
station (or any private business) as is contained on Tuolumne County's site. Besides
being wrong, unnecessary, and an element of confusion, there is still the question, why?
Let me give it one more try with Judge Du Temple. He always struck me as an honorable,
pragmatic and fair person.
Might I suggest, that Amador County had an outstanding jury web page, like one stop shopping,
easy to make last minute updates. Plus, do we need three colors on the summons, isn't that a lot
of additional expense? Humboldt County has a reference section to all 58 counties, upon my
review, no other county does it the way Tuolumne County does it.
In anticipation of your compliance with my request, I thank you.
Hon. Eric Du Temple, Presiding Judge
Superior Court of California
County of Tuolumne
Dear Judge Du Temple:
I want to give this one last try. This is a situation which on the surface appears innocuous,
but to me, it creates some very serious problems for both the court and the jurist.
Last week I received a jury summons. On the very top, the first thing I see, in bold, oblique,
print is this:
Jurors, in the event that the court delays or cancels
jury duty on your assigned day, it will place a public
announcement with reporting instructions on the
following radio stations:
KKBN 93.5, KVML 1450, and KZSQ STAR 92.7 FM
If you do not hear any such announcement, you should report
as directed on the court's jury website and phone system.
Thank you for your service to the court and local community.
Even more curious is the bright red instructions on the web site. Think about this
if you are a potential jurist. Might I suggest you cut out the chosen middle man and
just tell people what they need to know.
JURORS, in the event that the court delays or cancels jury duty
on your assigned day, it will place a public announcement with
reporting instructions on the following radio stations:
KKBN 93.5 FM
KVML 1450 AM
KZSQ STAR 92.7 FM
If you do not hear any such announcement, you should report as
directed on the court's jury website and phone system. Thank you
for your service to the court and local community."
Besides the obvious question, why is this on the top of my jury summons? There
is the question of propriety.
Why are people being instructed to get legal instructions from a local business?
How long am I required to listen for these instructions? What time do I begin to
listen? After all, it could come any time after 5:00 pm on Friday. How frequently
are they going to broadcast these instructions? How many other stations carry
the same instructions? Why are they not broadcast on the Highway Advisory
Frequencies (HAF) (580 and 1610)? The HAF are not filled with "personalities" of
questionable character and some with criminal records.
Very bad idea Judge Du Temple, very bad.
Consider this; there is a subversive element on this station. One of the broadcasters
was removed from his job for racist comments. Another, is not allowed in the UK because of
his penchant for violence and their concern he is a terrorist. Another is a convicted drug
felon. Again, it is a bad idea which exposes potential jurists to this criminal element.
Now what if the case was drug related and a juror was told by your court to listen to the
convicted drug abuser? How about those on that radio station who continuously encourage
their listeners to ignore the Constitution of the United States? Now how long would
you be in your job if you did something like that? There is more, but one could make
an argument for a mistrial if something overheard on that radio station could have impacted
the jurist decision. It is one thing for a jurist to listen to that station by their own choice,
it is far different being told to go there by you and your court.
OK, granted, far fetched, but admittedly not an impossible scenario. But the bottom
line is, that there is absolutely no reason to force good people to listen to bad people.
There is no need for this, it is not a public service announcement, the station broadcasts
non-stop, right wing extremist propaganda.
People have to report for jury duty at 8:00 am, that means they have to inform their employer
before they leave work on Friday that they may not be in on Monday. Their lives, that of their
coworkers, their employer and their families are interrupted from the moment they
get their summons. (eg-a school teacher, the school must get a substitute either
late Friday or very early Monday morning)
Now the jurist gets up on Monday, turns on the radio, and, well wait, they have to get
the kids ready for school, fix the lunches, get cleaned up, and they might just miss
the "PSA?" So they end up at the courthouse anyway. When did the court know
they would not be needed. Twice for me, it was a half hour after I got there
and another time 2 hours. Both times, a plea was struck after the reporting time.
Then once I was actually selected in Alameda County and before we heard the
first witness, we were dismissed. Now would spending the weekend listening to
hate talk, waiting for an announcement that never comes, changed these situations?
Simply put, unnecessary, a risk, not effective, misleading, a nuisance, and on and
on. Whose idea was this?
Might I suggest in closing, putting something worthwhile on the top of the front of the summons
and in the spot on the web site where the aforementioned promotional ad is placed.
Do you realize how difficult it is to find the following information on that two, legal size pages, of
minutiae we jurors receive from you?
"Jurors, you are requested to serve you community as a juror. Please
call the court at 209-533-5679, or you may go to our website at
www.tuolumne.courts.ca.ov/jury.htm after 5:00 pm on the Friday before
your reporting date."
Enough, this was my last try. If you folks don't get it by now, nothing I can do or say will help.
Tuolumne County's handling of this jury reporting process is so far removed from main stream
logic, it actually defies logic.
As you can tell, I take jury service for my community seriously. Have a great day.