Approximately 300,000 citizens in Miami-Dade County are randomly selected by a computer each year to be summoned to jury duty for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. Summonses are mailed to citizens who possess a valid driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Miami-Dade County has a total population of about 2,370,000; of which about three quarters are over 18, so make that circa 1,778,000 adults. If 300,000 per year are selected for jury duty for the 11th circuit alone (ie ignoring federal court), then a resident's chance of being picked in any one year is almost 17%.
Assuming the chance of being picked was a constant in the past, from an ex ante perspective my chance of NOT being picked 14 years in a row was, I calculate, just over 7%. I know people who've been called three times in that period, which the odds tables tell me would be around the expected mean, but I was the seven-percenter and never got called. Well, my luck (good or bad) changed this week: I have just received my first-ever jury summons.
It used to be that being a lawyer made you ineligible to serve in most parts of the country. That rule is pretty much defunct now, perhaps because there are so many lawyers it shrank the potential jury pool too much, perhaps because the bar is no longer a small club where everyone knows everyone and almost every lawyer would have to be excused anyway.
Like most lawyers, I actually find the idea of serving on a jury somewhat appealing: it's a way of seeing the legal system from a perspective that is usually inaccessible to us. On the other hand, if I'm not going to be selected, I don't find the idea of going down to the court house and sitting around all day in some horrible room with a TV blaring to be at all attractive. And realistically, that's the most likely outcome: as a general rule, lawyers don't especially want lawyers on their juries. On the other hand, I know of at least two colleagues who have sat on juries, so it's by no means out of the question.
The date they picked for me is on a day I teach, so I'm going to apply for a postponement to May, one which the form suggests is routinely granted. Miami-Dade has a one-day, one-trial rule: you turn up once and either you are picked on that day or you don't have to come back until your name comes up again. I'll report back after it's all over.