TO THE EDITOR: I think I owe Mary Coffey Pfeiffer, commissioner of jurors, an apology.
When I received a jury summons for Clinton County Court, I wrote back a rather cranky letter saying I thought the civility of the letter’s wording could be greatly improved.
Which it could, but compared to the Town of Plattsburgh’s imperious letter to appear for jury duty — which I received less than one week after the county released me from my summons — the county’s management of its jury process is a model of rationality compared to the town’s.
With the county, I could call a phone number to find out if I was needed.
With the town, its letter to me commanded: “You are hereby notified, all business and excuses aside, to appear before the Town of Plattsburgh Court . . . at 6 P.M. . . . to serve as a prospective juror.”
I can’t phone in? I have a car, but I’m in my 70s — having to get to Banker Road at night is not easy.
What do those who don’t drive and can’t afford a taxi do? Suppose I were out of town when this letter arrived? Suppose I have a sick family member who needs me? Suppose I’m sick? What do they mean, “No excuses?” Plenty of legitimate excuses exist, and we should be able to give them.
I served jury duty many times in New York City. I haven’t objected because in a spirit of the golden rule, I know I’d want an intelligent, thoughtful person on a jury if I ever needed one.
But for heaven’s sake, why not emphasize that? Don’t issue a blanket order, which only makes us bristle and not want to serve.
There’s no excuse for the peremptory tone of this summons.