Upon hearing the news that President Obama told a suburban Chicago court that he would not be able to serve on a jury because of the State of the Union Address, a former Justice Department spokesman said that the president should not skip out on his civil duty.
“The president had an opportunity to signal that jury duty is important and a duty of citizenship, rather than just simply saying he ‘would not be able to serve’,” wrote Mary Kate Cary, a former Justice Department spokesman and White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.
“When I was a spokesman at the Department of Justice in the early 1990s, I was called for jury duty. Because I was promoting the attorney general’s pro-victim, anti-crime positions daily, I figured the judge would take one look at me and I’d be let off. No such thing. He asked if any potential jurors knew the prosecutor or the defense lawyer personally, and hearing no affirmative answers, started the trial. I couldn’t believe I was kept on the jury, but I have to say, it was an eye-opening experience. I learned a heck of a lot about our criminal justice system — good and bad — and I now think everyone should serve on a jury, whether they’re the president or not.”