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Jury duty eludes Palin, ex-Alaska gov. in Iowa

Craig Medred
Sarah Palin at a Joe Miller rally in fall 2010 in Wasilla. Alaska Dispatch photo

Apparently, Sarah Palin is not in the pool of Matanuska-Susitna Valley jurors called to the Palmer courthouse Tuesday, because her stalkers in what she calls the lamestream media had her in their sights in Iowa. She'd earlier posted a communique on a supporter's website saying she planned to be there.

It was another communique from Palin on her Facebook page on June 22 that announced she was doing what she called "jury duty." She posted on Facebook then to rebuke claims that her national bus tour had been cancelled. She announced she was "looking forward to hitting the open road again. (But) the coming weeks are tight because civic duty calls -- like most everyone else, even former governors get called up for jury duty -- and I look forward to doing my part just like every other Alaskan."

There appear to have been no jury calls for Palin's jury district from the time she posted the June 22 message until Tuesday. The Palmer court, however, on Monday summoned service numbers 201 through 400 to the court house at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to await possible jury selection.

The pro-Palin website Conservities4Palin on Monday, however, posted that "Governor Palin looks forward to spending time tomorrow (Tuesday) with the people of Pella, Iowa, and enjoying the premiere of Stephen K. Bannon’s new film, “The Undefeated.” After that, she heads to Minnesota to join her daughter Bristol at a book signing for Bristol's new book "Not Afraid of Life" at the Mall of America. Then back to Alaska for jury duty."

On the website, the former mayor of Wasilla also complained once again about mistakes made by the media, to which she generally refuses to talk. Her preferred form of communication is via Facebook, Twitter or her political action committee's website. She was in a tiff on the latter this time because Politico.com reported Palin's "team'' had contacted a list of Iowa politicians with whom to meet while in Iowa, a key state for potential presidential contenders. Palin pointed out she has no "team'' in Iowa; she only has "backers" there pushing for her as potential Republican presidential contender. It remains unclear whether she will run.

Equally unclear is the issue of her jury service. Alaskans called to serve in a jury pool don't get specific days of service they can plan around. In the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, they are expected to be on call for a month. Those in the pool are told to call in daily to check if they will be needed the next day. A recording tells them whether to report to the courthouse. The recorded call for jurors in group 201 through 400 was posted on the voice recorder Monday evening and was the first call for a jury in days.

State officials won't say if Palin is in that group. They have declined to confirm if she was even called for jury service. Court officials contend this information is supposed to be confidential, though Palin blabbed it to the world on her Facebook page after her bus tour unexpectedly stopped. Palin supporters in Iowa had been expecting the bus to show up there this month.

But the bus never got far from Washington, D.C. The bus tour, according to Palin's website, started May 29 in Baltimore -- though the former Alaska governor made a high-profile ride in a Washington, D.C., motorcycle parade a couple days before -- and ended June 3 in Portsmouth, N.H. If Palin then returned to Alaska to be on call for a month in the jury pool, she should be free from "jury duty'' -- as she calls it -- in early July.

The Bristol book signing starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Minneapolis, so Sarah is apparently not planning to do any jury duty Wednesday. If she is summoned from the jury pool Wednesday night, she could be back for jury selection on Thursday or Friday, although the latter day seems unlikely. Friday is the day before the Fourth of July weekend, and lawyers and judges usually don't like to mess up holiday weekends with trials. And, of course, the Monday after that is the Fourth of July, so there is no court that day. So, it looks like there might only be a handful of days in July when Palin could get called to serve in a job for which one gets no choice.

Actually, being called to jury duty isn't like being governor, where you can quit halfway through if you don't like it. Alaskans selected to juries are expected to stay through the whole trial. And even being summoned to appear for potential jury duty in Alaska carries major obligations. If you fail to show when your pool is called, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com.