I disagree with the Star Tribune’s placing a recent letter critical of the Hennepin County jury staff in such a visible position (“Why people dread jury duty,” Feb. 8). I don’t question either the validity of the writer’s experience or the couple’s being justifiably upset with this incident as described. But editors’ highlighting of this incident creates the strong impression this is a common experience for those called to jury duty.
My recent experience with jury duty in Hennepin County belies the image of an inflexible and unresponsive system. To the contrary, I found those administering the jury pool to be accessible and willing to accommodate me in handling a household “emergency” that arose during my scheduled two weeks of service. I cannot say whether my experience is any more the norm than that of the letter writer’s wife (who was not allowed a day off to accompany the letter writer to a medical procedure), but I only observed the jury staff treating all in the pool with consideration and respect.
William Sweeney, Minneapolis
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Let’s say that the jury office told the Feb. 8 letter writer’s wife: No problem. You can have, say, Wednesday off, for example. Then on Tuesday she gets seated in a jury. Well, either the judge tells the 11 other jurors, the alternate jurors, the defendant, his lawyer, the prosecutor, the witnesses, the victim and his family and the court staff: “Everybody, Mrs. Letter Writer needs to take tomorrow off to be with her husband, so we will all meet back here the day after — oh, unless something happens to him, then maybe a few days, or we use an alternate juror.”
Now, maybe the harried, undervalued court employee, who has to juggle all the hundreds of citizens reporting for jury duty, didn’t explain the problems “a day off” can cause the jury trial. Or, maybe that person did, and the letter writer’s wife didn’t pass that on for the sake of a “better” story.
But, it seems to me the court employee could either reschedule her jury service, or tell her “no” to time off. I’m guessing the court employee exercised what compassion the rules allow.
Tough duty. (I hope the letter writer’s angioplasty went well.)
John Mahoney, Excelsior
The writer is an attorney.
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During my jury duty last September, our group of potential jurors was interviewed for a case by the judge and opposing counsel. In response to questions from the defense attorney, one juror said that she had been tentatively diagnosed with colon cancer and that she had postponed her diagnostic colonoscopy for several weeks for jury duty. There was a long pause, and the defense counsel admitted that he didn’t really know what to say, but he wished her well.
When I saw this juror the next day, I asked why she didn’t postpone her jury duty. She said she had already received one postponement and was not allowed a second. So she had to go several more weeks before finding out if she had colon cancer, and if she did, had to delay her cancer treatments.
Can’t the jury office treat potential jurors better than that?
Mark Hochhauser, Golden Valley
THE CAMPAIGN AND FEMINISM
There’s more than one dynamic to issue of supporting Clinton
The two letter writers’ reactions to Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright (“What role for feminism?” Feb. 9) are understandable, and I totally agree. It is important to make informed choices when voting; however, we have to consider all candidates. Being informed means we don’t vote for a woman just because she is a woman, but it also means we don’t vote for a man just because he is not a woman. When we discount a woman candidate, we decide (consciously or not) to disregard her as unimportant, irrelevant or unqualified just because she is a woman — regardless of her political persuasion.
Rebecca Fuller, Woodbury
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One reason I support Hillary Clinton is because it would give me pride to have a woman as president. The North American continent is the only inhabited one in the world that has not had a female leader of a country. I agree with Hilary on issues. She has years of varied experience.
It is ridiculous to chastise experienced feminists with the question of why not Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin. There is more than one dynamic going on here. Issues are, to me, more important than gender. I support only women who support equal rights for women, such as fair wages and reproductive choice. I have strongly supported many men who stood for those issues and will continue to do so.
If Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic nomination, I will vote for him. But I hope it doesn’t happen. I think the general public will have many questions about what Sanders stands for. He didn’t become a Democrat until last year. Most of his years in Congress, he was an independent. More clarity is needed. If he is too far left, some votes will be lost. This is a chance I don’t want to take, given the unsurpassed extremism of all the Republican candidates.
There are many reasons to support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.
Virginia Smith Watkins, Minnetonka
The writer was a leader of the National Organization for Women (NOW) on the local, state and national levels during the 1970s and early ’80s.
Plow driver’s point taken, but the effort is a two-way street
In reading the Feb. 9 letter on clearing snow, I was reminded that there are always two sides to every story. While I completely agree with the writer’s opinion that people should not put snow back into a plowed street, anyone who shovels sidewalks can tell you that we regularly deal with snow pushed out of the streets and onto our driveways and sidewalks. No one is at fault here; it’s just that we all continue to do the same thing, because we always have done it that way. There is equipment that can be installed on plows to prevent pushing snow into curb cuts. We should be asking for, and be willing to pay for, this equipment.
Cliff Carey, St. Paul
Commentary nailed the balance between understanding, concern
Todd Harvey (“A personal and public tug of war,” Feb. 9) did an excellent job of presenting the case of loving the individual and disagreeing with the religion. I have written a couple letters to the editor expressing these same ideas that Mr. Harvey stated (they were never printed, which is fine with me). Harvey did a much better job at explaining what I consider to be valid concerns about the teachings of Islam. Certainly, on an individual basis, and in our daily dealings with Muslims, we must treat them as we do anyone else, or as we ourselves want others to treat us. But, we can still question and state our concerns about their teachings, and their theocratic view of government.
John Lundquist, Brooklyn Park
Minneapolis native’s career in film and TV is telling
If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences truly wants to diversify the Oscars, it could begin by offering a lifetime achievement award to Minneapolis native James Hong, who has made a long, distinguished — and tenacious — career inhabiting the limited roles offered him, playing waiters and kung fu fighters in films and on TV. In an interview many years ago, Hong expressed his wish for a role that reflects what Chinese-Americans actually do: He could play the CEO of a tech company, for example, or at least be a romantic lead. In the meantime, he has made a side career of training younger actors and offering encouragement to the Asian-Americans among them, who are just now finding roles that move beyond stereotype. And Hong has kept on acting. At 86, he currently “appears” as the voice of Mr. Ping in “Kung Fu Panda 3.”
Cheri Register, Minneapolis