Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jail or Jury Duty for Pastor Bob on September 19

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Have you ever noticed how separation of church and state only goes one way?

    I thought about that when summoned for jury duty.

    Ever hear the story about why they use lawyers instead of white mice for medical experiments in California?

    I'm not going to repeat it; but I am going to share a letter with you that could end up with me getting thrown into jail on September 19.


Judge John Young
Judicial Circuit Court Number 17
Boone County
601 N. Main Street
Belvidere, Illinois 61008

September 5, 2012

Dear Judge Young:

I am copying this to my family, the elders of Belvidere’s First Presbyterian Church, ecclesiastical superiors, covenant brothers, Belvidere Chief of Police Jan Noble, Boone County Sheriff Duane Wirth, and readers of for acknowledgment and accountability; and if my decisions do not honor Lord Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture, I will confess my sin against you, repent, and fully comply “as summoned to appear before the Circuit Court of Boone County at the Courthouse in the City of Belvidere, Illinois on September 19, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. to serve as Petit Juror.”

Immediately replying to the 24 August 2012 notice via the blue juror response card, I scribbled a request to be excused: “I am a police chaplain and clergyman on 24/7 call for hospitals, crises, etc.”

I apologize for not requesting a personal audience on August 24 and writing so hastily.

I received notice dated 31 August 2012 on 4 September 2012 that my request has been denied because it “does not set forth sufficient grounds for excusal.  Therefore, you are expected to be available to report for jury service in accordance with your summons.”

Previously excused from jury service in other states for aforementioned albeit abbreviated vocational reasons, I called the Circuit Clerk’s office on 4 September 2012 to appeal my rejected request; asking for a personal appearance before you to explain my sense of call and vocation do not include jury service.  While my conversation with whomever answered the call was mutually cordial and respectful, I was told, essentially, that if I am given an excuse, “...everyone would want one.”

Again, I emphasize my telephone appeal was met with cordiality, respect, and even sympathy.

I was told to write to you if I still wanted to appeal my rejected request to be excused from jury service.

Particularly, I ask to be excused from jury service on 19 September 2012 because of a previous commitment to join Salvation Army Advisory Board President John Wolf at the United Way Annual Kick-Off scheduled for 7:00 a.m. at the Boone County Council of Aging on September 19.  I have been asked to provide a devotional. 

With respect to your authority as judge and in deference to the ultimate authority of God in accepting the call to provide a devotional for the United Way Kick-Off by previous commitment, I will arrive for jury service as soon as the United Way event concludes with proper deference to those attending.

Generally, I ask to be excused from jury service on 19 September 2012 because of my vocation with the cardinal call as enabled for immediate availability for crises, emergencies, care and counseling, hospital visitations, and related ministries.  As sometimes is said among colleagues, “People die without consulting your calendar.”

With respect to your authority as judge and in deference to the ultimate authority of God in my life and ministry, I will remain available for jury service on September 19 unless I am needed to respond as noted in obedience to God above all others as a pastor.

I have been told you are a man of faith; hence, I have not referred to the first two of His big ten, our Lord’s clear call to honor and serve Him above all others even while praying and laboring to render appropriate deference to government as long as government respects His ultimate authority, and the apostles’ willingness to be jailed for conscience captive to Him.

Again, I would have preferred to appear before you face-to-face; for I know how written correspondence can be misunderstood.

Regardless, I pray you receive this as intended with respect to your office, humility before the Circuit Court, and without antagonism or grievance as juxtaposed to my ultimate respect for our Lord’s call upon my life as a pastor.

I understand some may judge me as “in contempt of court” and revel in my arrest and imprisonment; yet for me to do otherwise than as stated would be in contempt of my Lord.

Blessings and Love,

Robert R. Kopp


    O.K., I know this doesn't rise to the level of Acts 4-5 or the march from Selma to Montgomery.

    Bonhoeffer ain't impressed from his martyred perch in paradise; and I doubt Jesus had this little protest in mind at the end of His beatitudes.

    Yet, I think of a few things.

    A freedom removed is rarely restored.

    If you give an inch to the government, they'll take a...

    Or as I wrote at the beginning of another one of my non-best-selling books, "Remembering you're going to live a lot longer with Jesus than anybody else makes establishing life's priorities a no-brainer."


    Of course, if I'm in jail by the time...



Blessings and Love!


Chuck said...

Way to tease the rattlesnake...

Dan G said...

Do you HONESTLY think you would ever get to a jury? A man schooled in morality and ethics is the LAST PERSON a lawyer wants on a jury. A man who has met liars and sinners face-to-face and reminded them they will be held accountable, absent repentance, is the LAST PERSON a lawyer wants on a jury. You will be excused on the spot to go foryth and answer your higher calling.

Robert said...

I hear they send such guilty parties to jail time in Turkey

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Humbled, brother.

John said...

Just read your "to jury duty or not jury duty" letter and I shake my head that I get into the fray by our going to the UW breakfast on the same day! I guess a guy has to do what a guy has to do! Seriously, good for you and I hope (and pray!) that John has the good sense to excuse you. I look forward to hearing your outcome.
John Wolf

PS When I read the headline, I thought it would be a fundraiser like Muscular Dystrophy's lockup!

Barbara said...

Hi Bob – Well, I LOVE your letter to the judge!! And let’s hope he realizes you, as a Pastor, and more so as police Chaplain, DO have a crucial schedule to be ‘on call’ for the police when tragedies happen. They can’t have just anyone take your place!! Presumably all has gone through the usual red tape, with no extra consideration, and the judge is probably not even aware. Hopefully he will be now, and realize many others are too, so it’s best he make a wise logical decision re your particular request for removal from jury duty. It will be interesting to learn of his decision and reply, and method thereof!!
Prayers to you for this situation!!

Blessings and Love

Bill said...

Let me share with you my observation about the summons for jury duty:

You will show up and sit around all day while they are deciding whether or not they need you.

When the time finally comes and they DO want you.... you will be dismissed by one side or the other during the voir dire process because (a) you are a clergyman and (b) you are associated with law enforcement in your capacity as a police chaplain.

So your time will have been wasted for a big fat nothing.

So you may as well go out on the limb with your letter to the judge.

And if get the exemption and then everyone else will want one.... tough luck for them. Except for the other clergy and police chaplains... who don't deserve to have a day of their life wasted either.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


Methinks you are right, mon ami!

WRP said...

Should I ever be called for jury duty (I was summoned many times while I was out at sea in the pacific while in the Navy -- to report for duty in New Jersey) during voir dire I have always thought I'd say something like "They must be guilty of something, Otherwise the police would not have arrested them."

Crystal said...

Dr. K.,
I can't wait to find out how this turns out! The way the government operates these days...ouch!

Bruce said...

Where do I send the cake with the file??

Jim said...

Well, if you end up in the slammer, may one of Gods angels open the door of your cell, and the doors of the jail, and escort you out of the joint.

Of course, it could be that He who called you may want you behind bars! lol.

John said...

Bob, on similar grounds but even more vague than yours, I asked a judge to excuse me because I was overloaded with work. Judge Woodworth called me and agreed to excuse me based upon the law previously excluding lawyers, although he noted the law had changed. I was not called again for 25 years. I do not remember what I did during those two days at work, but I regretted for a quarter century not going just to see how it all works.

I went without objecting the next time and made the first cut so was on the B team for an hour, but then was cut when they got to the A team. It was a murder trial of a 19 year old who sped off with a new girlfriend beside him and his old girlfriend hanging on to the handle of his pickup truck till she fell off under the wheels. They convicted him. Did he have mens re (guilty mind)? Possibly the evidence would have shown it, but the prosecutor would have had the burden to prove it. What could I have done not to ruin that young man's life?

I was called again and did not even make the B team that time on a civil matter vs. criminal. You really see life and how fifty of your fellow citizens think, what they do for a living, how they view their fellow citizens, what crimes they have committed, and stunning views of justice. Because you are often "cute" with word plays and challenge others with their use of words, I can assure you that you will never make the A team. One attorney or another will clearly see you beyond the reach of persuasion or control and have you taken out of the jury pool, but you will have one sermon illustration after another about human nature and how your own community works.

I doubt that five years from now you will remember what happened at the previous engagement that conflicts with your jury duty, but you will never forget your jury duty! Don't pass up the opportunity!

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


Thanks, brother, for this compelling counsel.

As you've read, I will present myself for jury duty; however, if there is a crisis like someone about to die or an emergency like someone in a terrible traffic accident, I will exit to my primary call.

But, yes, I will be there as an opportunity to respect the judge and court as long as it does not conflict with my ultimate respect for God.

Confessionally, I know I mess up (aka sin) on lots of things; so I am hoping this has not come off as arrogant or self-righteous. I'm just trying to be humble before my Lord in thanks to His many existential and eternal graces for the plethora of times when I have not been humble before Him.

Or something like that.

Again, thank you so much for being a good brother to me with gentle yet firm counsel.

jubilo said...

As a police chaplain of 30 years whenever I was called for jury duty I made certain when asked what I did I replied I'm a minister and police chaplain. The next question usually asked of me was "Would you give more reliance to the testimony of police officer than to another person." to which I'd reply "Absolutely, yes!" That was always followed by "You're dismissed."

Julie Thaxton said...

I am with "Jphn of many words." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Antonia said...

Dear Pastor Bob,

I just wanted you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed your most recent installment of Kopp Disclosure.
I would be very surprised if you're powerful appeal is not honored (by the Honorable Judge!).
I especially enjoyed the Elvis video since I am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE, Elvis fan!


Pete said...


LOL! Well written. If you end up in jail, have someone let me know and I will send the cake with the file enclosed.

Good luck.

Pastors Heartbeat said...

I pray that you won't be starting an in-house jail ministry!

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


My sentiments as well, brother.

Claude said...

Bob, I was called to jury duty in Iowa. I wanted to see the system working. My grandfather, great grandfather, uncle and great uncle were all attorneys and I wanted to see something of how they spent their careers. I was not chosen for a jury. An attorney friend told me later that clergy are known to have a "sense" of right and wrong already. The competing attorneys don't want anyone with a preconceived notion prior to hearing their arguments.
There are times when right and wrong don't have as much to do with the outcome as does the most persuasive presenter.
Any self respecting attorney would not want you anyway.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...


It pains me, friend, to know you are right.