By Lyle Hillyard
Utah State Senator, District 25
This is a follow up to last week’s blog
. I appeared before Judge Judkins this afternoon, as requested, to explain why I didn’t appear on April 18th as part of a jury panel. I had filed a response with the court the day before the hearing with documentation to explain the conflict I was in: if I had responded to the jury request, I could not attend interim or the special session the Senate held at noon that day to vote on the Governor’s appointments, which included a district court judge. I had committee meetings that morning and wanted to be in the senate in the event questions came up about a potential appointee.
The judge explained he had not received my written explanation, which in fact had been filed the evening before and again first thing that morning when the court opened. He further explained that had he seen those papers he would have accepted them and would not have issued the order to show cause. He noted that this case had been blown way out of proportion and he allowed me to leave the court without any sanctions, nor did he find me in contempt.
I agree that no one is above the law. My position as a state senator does not exempt me from serving on a jury, nor should it. The jury system only works when juries can be selected at random and represent the general public to determine facts for a court. On the 18th I was caught in a dilemma – how to respond to a call from the Court, which I believe is an important right and responsibility, and at the same time fulfill my legislative duties. I do hope I get another chance to be called and report again as a potential member of a jury.