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updated: 2/9/2011 6:40 PM

Topinka, in an ironic twist, called for jury duty

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  • State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

       State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka
    DANIEL WHITE | Staff Photographer

By Kerry Lester
Politics and Projects Writer

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka will be getting a taste of her own medicine, so to speak, on Monday.

Almost 25 years after her legislation eliminating lawmakers and others from jury duty exemptions was passed, Topinka has been called to serve on Monday, Feb. 14 at the Markham Courthouse in South suburban Cook County.

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Topinka, a Riverside Republican, said she was called once before, about 15 years ago, but was dismissed by a judge who recognized her as his state senator.

"I got my 17 dollars," she said. "It was a good day for reading."

In 1987, Topinka and then Democratic state Rep. (now Senate President) John Cullerton worked to attach an amendment limiting exemptions to other legislation.

"We kind of buried it," Topinka said. "We put it into a bill that had to be passed."

At the time, more than two dozen different groups -- including politicians, reporters and newspaper deliverymen -- were exempted from jury duty, Topinka said, "thus making the pool totally comprised of those who were old, sick or had no clout."

Topinka says serving on a jury "is the only thing the Constitution asks."

Come Monday, she said, "I'm going. There's no questions."

"It drives me absolutely crazy when people tell me they're too busy, they can't go. They're looking for some kind of a fix."

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