President Bush Called for Jury Duty

In yet another scandal plaguing this scandal-plagued administration, President Bush is dodging jury duty.

Will Bush heed his call to (jury) service? (Waco Tribune-Herald)

Leading the free world during wartime and reporting for jury duty are both important public service responsibilities. While most would agree that serving as president of the United States is more pressing than serving as foreman of a jury, McLennan County officials are waiting for Crawford resident George W. Bush, potential juror number 286, to respond to a summons to report Monday for jury duty.

“It is not uncommon that people don’t respond for jury duty,” said 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother, to whose court the president has been summoned. “It is unique having the president in this situation, so I have never faced this issue before and I am not sure what is going to happen. I am assuming at some point that we will hear something from somebody on his behalf.”

White House spokesman Allen Abney said the commander-in-chief was not aware of the situation: “The White House has not received the summons yet.” He declined to elaborate on how the president would handle the jury notice when it finally did arrive from Bush’s adopted home county.

[…]

“The president actually appearing for jury duty, I think, would create all sorts of security issues for the Secret Service, for the sheriff’s department, for the courthouse, so I anticipate that we will hear some type of response to the jury summons,” Strother said.

McLennan County District Clerk Karen Matkin said her office mailed a jury summons to Bush at 43 Prairie Chapel Ranch Road in mid-November. “They may still be looking at his mail to see if it has Anthrax on it,” Matkin said. “He may have not even received it or know anything about it.”

[…]

“I don’t think I’ll be sending the sheriff out to bring the president in,” said Strother, a Republican who has a grandson serving in the Army in Iraq. “It seems to me that the president has plenty of things to occupy his attention. Jury duty is a very important civic function, but running the country, I think, especially in wartime, takes priority over jury service.”

As Mary Katharine Ham notes, this is some conundrum:

If he gets out of jury duty, Dems will complain he’s not reporting for duty, with inevitable allusions to his Texas Air National Guard service. If he does report and serve, he’ll be slacking off in his Presidential duties, with inevitable allusions to his excessive exercise regimen and long Crawford “vacations.”

Quite true. And how convenient is it that Strother is a Republican?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Kerry showed up for his jury duty, but then, he has a bit more free time than the Prez.

    Or does he? If Bush can take 1/3 of the year off for vacation, can’t he do a little jury duty? I mean, Cheney and Rove can just keep running the country in his absence, right?

    Seriously, though, a serving president should be immune from such things. Pity, that. The satirical possibilities are lovely.

  2. DaveD says:

    OK, moving on to more important items……

  3. James Joyner says:

    Anderson:

    The nature of a congressman’s duty is somewhat different, owing to its local character. Actually, though, I’d exempt them, too for a very practical reason: The appearance that their judgment in a trial might be influenced by the ballot box.

    And, of course, presidents don’t get much “time off.” Even when they’re on vacation, they’re working much of the time. One can’t exactly do jury duty and perform due diligence while worried about the Red Phone ringing.

    I thought the Supremes got Clinton v. Jones wrong, BTW. While there may need to be allowances made to preserve the rights of harmed parties, allowing citizens to drag presidents into court is just a horrible idea all the way around.

  4. Rick DeMent says:

    On a much more pedestrian when has anyone, in a position of wealth or power ever been compelled to serve on a jury? Where are the stories in people magazine about Brad Pitts experience carrying out his civic duty to sit on a jury? When was the last time a CEO of a major corporation been forced to sit on a jury panel? I mean common people have to make all kinds of arrangement when faced with a summons but anyone with a lawyer on retainer seems to be able to avoid things like jury duty.

    I think that the president should get to postpone his duty until he is out of ofiice but the system is rigged against regular folk to a fair-thee-well.

  5. Anderson says:

    JJ, I was teasing about Bush’s vacation-proneness. Though I suspect that we would be shocked by how much time he really spends on his work in Crawford. Certainly the president, of all people, should be exempt from jury duty.

    One does wonder where the line stops–Rumsfeld? Scalia? DeLay?–but the president is clearly on one side of it.

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Certainly the president, of all people, should be exempt from jury duty.’

    Why? Unless there’s a security issue it’d set a civic example to have him report for it and make his case for why he couldn’t serve if he had to. I have never understood the idea that in a democracy that the POTUS should be conferred some sort of royal stature. Wasn’t that what they were fighting against in 1776?

  7. Anderson says:

    Why? Unless there’s a security issue it’d set a civic example to have him report for it and make his case for why he couldn’t serve if he had to.

    No “royal stature,” just the presumption that the “President of the United States” is a really busy guy, and that America might suffer if he had to take off a few unscheduled days (weeks, sometimes) to sit in a jury pool.

    Besides which, there’s got to be some argument for a mistrial if the PRESIDENT is on the jury.

  8. Serenity says:

    While all this has been “fascinating” to read, the major issues here are twofold: first, the president is already serving in the highest civic office, he is doing his duty as we speak, and that goes without my approving or disapproving of his actual job performance. He is very busy and I do not see how he could take days off to sit a jury even if there wasn’t this second issue: the fact it would be an extreme conflict of interest. The president has the power to commute and/or pardon individuals both convicted federally and in the states. It is not appropriate under these circumstances for the president to sit on a jury, the results of which could possibly one day reach his desk as a request for a pardon, commuting of a sentence or leniency of another nature. The idea that Kerry and Bush could be compared here is ludicrous, it is comparing apples and oranges. Kerry is not in a position of possible conflict, his duties, while vastly important as well, hardly are on the scale of the presidents. Whomever commented on how little “vacation” a president really has is right. Even while on “vacation” a president is still at work. Basically his “vacation” is just a change of scenery. The entire situation here is ludicrous. I hardly find it newsworthy. Anyone of intelligence, which I see most here have, going on about this subject must be a bit bored with “business as usual” It does provide a bit of levity in these difficult and trying times. A vastly needed chance for a laugh and giggle.