A cat gets called to jury duty twice E-mail
Here's the thing about electronic records and their use by government agencies - sometimes the information is inaccurate and sometimes downright bogus. Take the TSA no-fly list, for instance.

You have to question a security system that considered the late Ted Kennedy a terrorist threat but fails to indicate that the Christmas 2010 attempted underwear bomber might have been a threat. So how good is the information and "intelligence" in a lot of these databases?

It depends on things like typos. For instance, a cat in Boston was recently called to jury duty.

But, his owner protested, the cat can't speak English. That's one of the most important requirements for jury duty.

Regardless, Sal the cat recently received a summons to appear at Suffolk Superior Court.

So Sal's owners, Anna and Guy Esposito, filed to have Sal disqualified for jury service. But the request, amazingly, was denied.

In her application to get the cat out of jury duty, Anna Esposito said that Sal "is unable to speak and understand English," one of 10 statutory qualifications for disqualification from service. Others include "not a United States citizen," "under age 18" and "over age 70."

The judicial branch website states that U.S. citizens who "do not speak and understand English sufficiently well may be disqualified."

May be disqualified? So does that mean in some cases a defendant's fate rests on the judgment of someone that couldn't understand anything said during the course of the trial? Well, not quite.

"Jurors are not expected to speak perfect English," the language specifies.

The Espositos think they have the whole thing figured out. They say Sal may have been mistakenly listed after they named him on a recent U.S. census in a question about pet ownership. According to the Massachusetts Judicial Branch, "prospective jurors are selected randomly by computer from a Master Juror List ... using street lists submitted annually by each city and town."

Hopefully E-Verify and other monster-list databases work a little better than the automated juror selection or parole board systems in Massachusetts.

 


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