Last fall, without realizing it, many students volunteered themselves for the civic duty of serving as jurors in the Philadelphia courts.
Penn students from all over the country have received Philadelphia jury duty summons as a result of registering to vote in Pennsylvania for the 2008 presidential election.
In Philadelphia, jurors are randomly selected to serve from lists of registered voters and adult licensed drivers. Being on either list enables a person to be selected for jury duty.
According to College senior Annassa Corley, president of Penn Leads the Vote — a nonpartisan group that promotes election participation — multiple groups worked to register voters on campus prior to the 2008 election. Penn Leads the Vote, Penn Democrats and other groups not affiliated with the University all made efforts to get out the vote, Corley said.
Corley explained that serving as a juror is a civic duty that goes along with voting and paying taxes. By registering to vote, Corley said, a citizen enables him- or herself to be selected.
College sophomore Jacob Nussbaum — originally from Charleston, S.C. — received a letter in early December 2009 notifying him that he was selected to serve for a trial scheduled for Jan. 4 in Philadelphia.
Nussbaum said he was able to bring the letter to the College Office in Claudia Cohen Hall, which sent a letter to the Philadelphia court system explaining his status as a full-time student. According to Nussbaum, that was the last he heard about the matter.
College sophomore Irene Rivera had a similar experience last summer. She received a jury duty notice forwarded from her school address to her home in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, for a trial scheduled at the beginning of the fall 2009 semester.
She wrote back to the Philadelphia courts, stating that because she was a college student relying on financial aid, she could not run the risk of missing weeks of class due to the possibility of an extended trial.
She was not contacted again about serving.Comments powered by Disqus
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