Potential jurors in hot water for failing to show

Published 10:45 am Friday, October 7, 2011

COURTLAND—About 40 Franklin and Southampton County residents will have to explain to a judge why they failed to answer recent jury duty summons.

Circuit Court Clerk Rick Francis said Judge Rodham T. Delk ordered hearings for Friday, Oct. 14, for individuals who either failed to appear for jury duty, or failed to fill out and return a required questionnaire. Delk could fine them for being in contempt of court.

“The judge has indicated he’s not going to send anybody to jail,” Francis said.

No one faces a criminal penalty.

He suspects many of the no-shows were a result of bad addresses.

Delk ordered the show cause after 24 potential jurors showed for a Sept. 29 jury trial. Francis said 45 potential jurors were called. Typically 80 percent of those summoned show for jury duty.

Francis said potential jurors who failed to show for a Sept. 20 jury trial would also be called for a show cause proceeding.

Another eight individuals would be called despite serving on juries because they failed to return the required questionnaire. Without a questionnaire, Francis’ office has had trouble contacting them by phone. He said office staff sent letters this week in hopes of getting a response back.

“We are trying to do everything we can to contact those who have served on juries, but did not complete the questionnaire, but we’re kind of flying blind,” Francis said.