Courts get tough on jury duty no-shows - New York News

Courts get tough on jury duty no-shows

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PHOENIX -

It was a day of reckoning for jury duty evaders. The Maricopa County Court System announced it is cracking down on people who don't report when they're called to serve.

The days of just not showing up and moving on with your life are apparently over, as some people found out in court Friday.

Tired of people not showing up for jury duty, Maricopa County Courts enacted a new get-tough policy.

More than a dozen people were found in contempt of court for ignoring their jury summons. Their excuses ranged from a missionary who was just too busy -- to they forgot.

"Simply forgot."

"In all honesty I forgot like the previous gentleman."

"I would say I'm real busy sir."

More than a dozen people showed up in court today, many with their tails between their legs, as they faced Judge Randall Warner. They tried to explain why they didn't show up for jury duty -- ignoring court orders, not once, not twice, but three times!

"The law is very clear that it's a responsibility to appear," said Judge Warner.

The judge found 13 people in contempt of court. Fines ranged from $50 to $250, but can go up to $500. Goran Knezevic got a $250 fine.

"I think the reason I got a bigger fine was that I called in, I made them aware I did get the jury service and did not show," he said.

Quintton Jones was fined $100. He showed up for his court date, but left before being excused, saying he had to take care of his sick grandmother.

"I did take it seriously I just couldn't stay at all I thought he'd let me off but he didn't," said Jones.

"I take jury service very seriously," said Judge Janet Barton, Superior Court Judge.

Judge Janet Barton says 56 percent of people are not showing up for jury duty.

"If we have sufficient numbers of no shows we could be in a position where we can't empanel a jury. Defendants have speedy trial rights," said Judge Barton.

The judge points out potential jurors are notified of their court date a month in advance and can reschedule if the date doesn't work.

"So call. That's all we're asking, let us know. These are people who have done nothing to explain why they failed to appear. They just failed to appear."

Along with a fine, the judge gave each offender another jury duty date.

No shows cost taxpayers too. In April more than 5,500 people didn't show up for jury duty.

At $1.50 a summons, the court estimates it spends almost $100,000 a year on those summons.

One of the no-shows didn't show up again. They talked about issuing a bench warrant, but decided to try and track her down to likely pay a fine.

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