A Texas man has been sent to jail after repeatedly skipping jury duty.
There is a near universal dread of being called to jury duty. But the case of Jose Bocanegra Jr. is an unusual reminder of how shirking one's government-mandated responsibility to pass judgment on one's fellow citizens can result in getting yourself into trouble with the law.
"He tried to get disqualified by stating he was a felon—that got denied," Jury Bailiff Paula Morales told a local Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate. "He tried to get excused by claiming he was the caretaker of an invalid. We couldn't substantiate that, so that was denied."
Sometimes Bocanegra, 20, just simply didn't show up for his assigned jury duty.
Interestingly, the authorities finally went after Bocanegra when he did show up for jury duty—only to leave the scene minutes later. A bench warrant for his arrest was then promptly issued.
Legally, a person cannot be asked to serve on a jury more than once every two years. Though most individuals are asked to serve at far more infrequent intervals.
There are several ways an individual can legally attempt to avoid jury duty, citing various professional, personal and legal conflicts. And beyond that, you may not even be asked to formally serve on a specific jury when you show up for the selection process. But if someone blatantly skips jury duty, the repercussions vary across different jurisdictions. In some cases, an individual will simply be assigned to serve on another jury. Or the individual may be fined. Or, as in the case of Bocanegra, the person can actually be sent to prison.
"I called him… his phone wasn't accepting phone messages. I sent him an email, told him it was imperative that he contact me immediately, and we never heard back from him," Morales told CBS. "So then I was forced to take it to the judge."
The next day Bocanegra stood handcuffed in front of a judge who held him in contempt of court. In explaining his absence from jury duty, Bocanegra reportedly told the judge he didn't like waiting in line and that jury duty was too time-consuming.
"I didn't want to because it's all the way in Fort Worth—way out of the way," Bocanegra said in the courtroom.
"The judge told him he wasn't taking his jury duty seriously, considering his history. So he sentenced him to five days in the county jail," Morales said.
"I mean, we've tried and tried and he just kept shirking it and shirking it and it wasn't going anywhere. So we didn't have a choice."