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Avoid Jury Duty by Not Taking a Shower

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pepe_le_pew1There is almost nothing more dreaded than seeing a letter from your local court in your mailbox. For most of us it means one thing: jury duty. It is our society’s great equalizer, requiring all of us, big and small, rich and poor, smelly and not smelly, to report to court and sit in the jury pool.

Well actually, not the smelly people. You can go home, according to courts in Massachusetts.

During a murder trial, a judge in Massachusetts dismissed a juror because, in her words:

[The juror], for whatever reason, had some very bad, I guess to be blunt again, body odor, which was extremely strong, and I was able to detect in my lobby, as was the clerk…

The judge went on to say she was concerned that the other jurors could not actually concentrate on the trial due to the offensive smell emanating from their fellow juror. I guess if it is stinking up the lobby behind the court room, then it must have been pretty bad.

This case comes on the heels of another recent controversial juror dismissal, this time out of Florida. In a drug, weapon, and assault trial, the prosecutor struck the only African American on the jury pool. The defendant immediately challenged the prosecutor’s decision. The prosecutor stated that in his experience, overweight jurors were sympathetic to defendants. The prosecutor’s conclusory reasoning, coupled with their failure to strike other overweight defendant’s from the jury pool, did not sit well with the Florida Appeals Court and the decision was reversed.

How are these different? Issues of fairness to the defendant were not the main concern with the dismissal of the smelly juror. Instead, it was more an issue of fairness to the court. Can you conduct trial, (or do anything, for that matter) while being distracted by an offensive odor? Probably not, according to the judge.

So next time you get your jury summons, note the date you are supposed to report. Usually it is a good month away. If a deferment is not in the cards, don’t cancel those holiday plans! Just neglect your personal hygiene in the meantime, and you’ll be home free.

Ken LaMance

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