Skipping out on jury duty could bite you in the end

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- When you find a jury duty summons among the bills and birthday cards, many respond with an "oh man." But you usually follow through anyway. KEPR found out one in every four people who get summoned.. Don't show up to jury duty.

Benton County sends out 860 summons every two weeks. Brenda Davis received one to appear on a drug case. She didn't even question it. She explains, "I thought it was gonna be kinda cool."

Besides being cool, Brenda knows it's her civic duty.

Brenda continues, "Helping our country. Helping put away the people that are doing wrong."

That doesn't seem to be enough motivation for others in Benton County .KEPR discovered this burden on the court system is a waste of your tax dollars. Without jurors, trials get put on hold, pushed back or just thrown out. It could mean a suspect goes free, while you pay the price.

Benton County Clerk, Josie Delvin tells KEPR, "Mistrial gets declared, all these jurors have to be paid for their time and mileage."

Some suggest more incentive to miss work for jury duty.

"Maybe something for a little effort for taking the day off... $10 or give them a free cappuccino, ya know, inspire them," Brenda suggests.

Franklin County faced the same problem. A few years ago the court began paying jurors minimum wage for every day they appeared, but they still get just as many no-shows.

Brenda shakes her head, "Lazy, too busy doing their own thing and don't care about anybody but themselves."

It is rare to be criminally charged for skipping jury duty, but the county may still track you down.

"And tell them they have to appear in the afternoon and explain to the judge why they didn't show in that morning," Delvin explains.

For Brenda, it's another reason she double-checks the mail.

"If I got it again, I'd go again," Brenda says.

There isn't a solid estimate on how much absent jurors cost the county, but it's a burden nonetheless. Your chance of being called to serve is only about 1%. Names are compiled from both voter registrations and Department of Licensing data.