Since leaving the White House in January, former president Barack Obama has turned heads, images of him slipping into a Broadway play with his elder daughter, Malia, and kitesurfing with billionaire Richard Branson in the British Virgin Islands were shared on social media sites.
His next stop: jury duty in Cook County, Ill.
Obama, a constitutional scholar who frequently invokes messages of civic engagement, plans to serve next month, the county’s chief judge told the Chicago Tribune on Friday. Obama owns homes in Washington, D.C., as well as Chicago. He’ll follow in the footsteps of presidential predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, both of whom appeared for jury selection after leaving the White House.
Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans first shared the news with county commissioners during a budget hearing. He later told the Tribune that necessary precautions would be taken to accommodate security and scheduling needs. He did not specify the date or courthouse location Obama will report to in November.
“He made it crystal-clear to me through his representative that he would carry out his public duty as a citizen and resident of this community,” Evans told the Tribune.
A spokesman declined to comment on the former president’s private schedule.
The Tribune reported that other high-profile figures, like Oprah Winfrey, have also reported for jury duty in Cook County. Jurors can be summoned for civil or criminal pools and can be called to any of the county’s courthouses.
“Although it’s not a place where the public can earn a lot of money, it is highly appreciated,” Evans told the Tribune of Obama’s choice to serve. “It’s crucial that our society get the benefit of that kind of commitment.”
Obama skipped jury duty at least once before when in 2010 he was pre-booked with the State of the Union. According to CBS News, the summons were sent to Obama’s former home on the South Side of Chicago, but the president told the county court that he wouldn’t be able to make it.
Obama would not be the first former president to report for jury duty after leaving the Oval Office.
In August 2015, more than six years after the end of his presidency, George W. Bush received his jury duty summon and reported to the George Allen Dallas County Civil Court building. Bush sat through the jury selection panel and, though not picked to serve as a juror, spent about three hours at the court and posed for photos with his fellow jury candidates.
“If the former President can show up for jury duty what excuse do you have? #civicduty” tweeted a spectator.
In March 2003, Bill Clinton became Prospective Juror No. 142 in federal court in Manhattan. The New York Times reported that Clinton, whose name was avoided in the court hearing, was eventually dismissed in the jury selection in a case involving a gang shooting in the Bronx.
While serving as vice president, Joe Biden was called for jury duty in Delaware in January 2011. He too was not chosen as a juror.
Even members of the judicial branch don’t always make the cut.
In April 2015, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. reported for jury duty in Montgomery County, Md., and was being considered for a civil trial in a case involving a car crash. The Washington Post reported that Roberts answered questions about relatives — that his sister was a nurse and his brother-in-law was with Indiana State Police — but said nothing about his day job, which would be listed on a form.
“Roberts was not selected, and left court without comment,” The Post reported.
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