POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 1, 2010
QUESTION: Something is wrong with the selection process for jury duty. I just had to report for jury duty for the fifth time. No one in my family, not my sisters, brothers or parents, has ever been summoned for jury duty. We all have driver's licenses, vote and pay taxes. None of them would have an automatic exemption from serving. No one in my office has been summoned more than once. Why me? Also, at no time did anyone at the courthouse ever check my ID. Could someone else have gone in my place and served on a jury?
ANSWER: For better or worse, it really is the luck of the draw as to who is summoned.
"The names really are selected at random, and it so happens some people do get called more often (than others) and some people never do get called at all," acknowledged an official with the state Judiciary's jury pool office.
Names are plucked from voter registration logs, driver's licenses and taxpayer records.
State law allows a person to be exempt from jury duty if he or she served within the previous year. Otherwise, names are not removed no matter how many times a person may have served.
"You don't have to serve every year, but you may receive a questionnaire (from the jury pool office) every year," the official said.
For more information, see jimspss1.courts.state.hi.us:8080/eJurorFAQ/jury_service_faq.htm#Q1.
Those who qualify for automatic exemptions are elected officials during a legislative session; judges; practicing physicians or dentists; active-duty military deployed out of state; police, fire or emergency medical services personnel; if you live more than 70 miles from the court that issued the summons; or if you are at least 80 years old.
Regarding ID checks: Identification is not requested because it clearly states on the summons that if the person summoned does not appear, a bench warrant may be issued and the person could be found in contempt of court, the jury pool official explained. Once in court, you have to swear that you are the individual summoned.
We're told having someone pretend to be someone else "has not been a problem."
Some people have asked to serve in place of the person summoned, the official said, "but we tell them 'no.' The person who was issued that summons would have to comply" or provide a reason for not doing so.
QUESTION: What disciplinary action was given to the firemen who used a fireboat to sail to Niihau? I believe the public needs to be assured that city and state properties are used for lifesaving and protection of the public and not for their employees' recreation.
ANSWER: It was reported in September that the Kauai Fire Department took "disciplinary action" against the supervisors who used the county fireboat to go fishing off the coast of Niihau.
However, both the Kauai mayor's office and the Kauai fire chief refused to say what the discipline was, citing personnel privacy rights.
The errant firefighters were caught fishing near a monk seal haven by a video camera, set up by the owners of the privately owned island of Niihau to catch trespassers.
To a reckless driver. At 7:40 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at the intersection of Waimano Home Road and Komo Mai Drive, I was waiting in the only lane to go straight on Waimano. When the light turned green, the BMW in the left-turn-only lane cut me off and sped up Waimano. The driver needs a lesson in driving safely, especially for the safety of others. -- Appalled Driver