Massachusetts G.L. c. 234A, §§ 42 and 44: Delinquent Jurors

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 234A, Section 42 makes it a crime for a person to fail to appear for juror service or to fail to perform any part of his or her juror service. The statute states, in relevant part:

… Upon a finding by the court that a juror will not appear to perform or complete juror service or in response to the court’s order, the court may issue a warrant for the arrest of the juror or may take such other appropriate actions as are likely to compel the juror to appear before the court. Any grand or trial juror who fails to appear for juror service or who fails to perform any condition of his juror service shall be guilty of a crime, and upon conviction thereof, may be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars.

While G.L. c. 234A, section 42 provides the criminal punishment for failure to comply with juror service obligations, G.L. c. 234A, section 44 describes more specifically what must occur before a person may be punished under section 42. Section 44 states, in relevant part:

The office of jury commissioner may prepare an application for the issuance of a criminal complaint against any grand or trial juror who has not been removed from delinquency status by the office of jury commissioner within thirty days after the date of a delinquency notice sent to such juror. The application shall aver that the named person was duly selected and summoned to perform trial or grand juror service at a specified location on a specified date and that such person has failed to appear for jury service without justifiable excuse in violation of section forty-two. The information provided in the application shall be based upon the records of the office of jury commissioner…

Accordingly, a person may be convicted under G.L. c. 234A, section 42 only if the Commonwealth can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  1. The defendant was selected and summoned to provide juror service as a trial juror or a grand jury juror at a specific location on a specific date;
  2. The selection and summons of the defendant was done in accordance with the other sections of G.L. c. 234A;
  3. The defendant was not disqualified from juror service; and
  4. The defendant either:
    1. failed to appear to serve as a juror as required, and had no justifiable excuse for failing to appear for juror service; or
    2. failed to perform any condition of his or her juror service.
Examples: G.L. c. 234A, Sections 42 and 44

A person who was duly selected and summoned to serve as a juror on any trial or grand jury, and who ignores this duty without appropriate reasonable justification, may be convicted under G.L. c. 234A, section 42. Likewise, if a person appears for juror service, but discusses the evidence of the case outside of deliberations while a trial is ongoing, despite a judge’s order to refrain from doing so, he or she will have failed to perform a condition of his or her juror service, and may face punishment under the statute.

Defenses to Charges of Juror Delinquency

If a defendant had moved out of the jurisdiction, or was incapacitated or otherwise physically unable to appear for juror service at the time he or she was summonsed, the defendant has a strong defense to the charge of juror delinquency. It may also a defense if the defendant was not qualified for juror service at the time of his or her selection. A person may be disqualified from service if, at the time of selection, he or she was (i) under 18 years old; (ii) at least 70 years old, and indicated on the juror confirmation form an election not to serve; (iii) not able to speak and understand English; (iv) physically or mentally disabled and therefore incapable of rendering satisfactory juror service; (v) solely responsible for the daily care of a permanently disabled person living in the same household, and the performance of juror service would cause a substantial risk of injury to the health of the disabled person; (vi) outside of the judicial district and did not intend to return to the judicial district at any time during the following year; (vii) convicted of a felony within the past 7 years, or was a defendant in a pending felony case, or was in the custody of a correctional institution; or (viii) a person who had served as a grand juror or a trial juror in any state or federal court within the previous 3 years, or was scheduled to perform such service.

Penalties

Juror delinquency is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,000.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer 617 263 6800

Attorney Neyman has successfully defended clients against charges of failure to appear for juror service or other juror delinquency. If you or someone you know has been charged under G.L. c. 234A, section 42, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. today for a free and confidential consultation at 617-263-6800 or online.

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