With Secret Service agents in tow, Barack Obama reported Wednesday to a courthouse in Chicago after being summoned for jury duty – but the former president was not chosen to serve. Obama arrived at the justice centre in Chicago by motorcade, according to several US media reports that showed him entering the building and being greeted by people at the courthouse.
Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans told reporters shortly after Obama arrived that he was not tapped to serve on a jury and was dismissed for the day, according to the Chicago Tribune. Obama was one of 168 people who showed up for jury duty at the justice centre on Wednesday. They were assigned to 16 panels before eight of those panels, including the one Obama was assigned to, randomly selected to be sent home, a spokesman for the chief judge told the Tribune.
Theoretically, every US citizen over the age of 18 could be called for jury duty. The former president, 56, lives in Washington but maintains a home in Chicago, which is why his name came up for jury duty there. A jury duty summons is usually sent in the post and requires the recipient to report on the designated day or face consequences such as a fine.
The first step of the process usually narrows the pool by disqualifying people who might not be able to serve the entire length of a trial or who might have other schedule limitations.
The actual selection process typically includes interviews by lawyers for both sides in order to exclude people who might be biased. With a degree from Harvard Law School and his time teaching law, not to mention eight years as president, Obama certainly has legal experience. But most lawyers reject well-known people on juries out of concern that they create a distraction. Obama is not the first former president to be called for jury duty.
George W Bush was summoned in his home state of Texas in 2015, but was not selected. The presiding judge said it was not because of his fame, but because a jury had already been seated.