Summoned for Jury Duty, President Sends His Regrets

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There was a scheduling conflict, so a certain McLennan County rancher will not show up Monday in Waco for jury duty after all.

"The president has other commitments," said the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan.

No problem, said Judge Ralph T. Strother of State District Court, though President Bush's name had popped up on a random list of Texans summoned for jury service. Judge Strother said he had now given Mr. Bush, who owns a 1,600-acre ranch outside Crawford, a choice of six other dates from January to June 2006.

Does Judge Strother expect him to show up?

Why, yes, the judge said by telephone, the White House assured him that "the president considers it an important civic responsibility and duty."

And, he said he was told, "the president didn't want to be treated differently than anybody else."

But to actually sit on a jury and hear a murder case, say, or perhaps just a civil suit?

"I'd be a little surprised," the judge admitted.

Would he ever lock up the president for being a no-show?

"It didn't cross my mind," said the judge, a Republican who has won two elections to the bench since first being appointed in 1999 by Mr. Bush, who was then governor.

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