Jackson County is having a hard time filling jurors seats. It is a growing problem with more and more people avoiding the responsibility, and the problem has affected the courts ability to function.
"We have had to adjourn court, and either start again later, or pick up the next day and call more jurors because not enough are showing up," said Dina Peek, the assistant jury coordinator for Jackson County.
Once a quarter the court sends out about 6,000 simple questionnaires to find potential jurors.
When 1,700 people failed to respond during the last mailing, the county decided to take action. It randomly selecting about 100 people asked them to explain themselves
"The number one thing we heard was 'Oh I never got it," said Peek.
However the questionnaires are sent with delivery confirmation, so that simply isn't possible.
"Actually one guy said his dog ate it," said Peek.
On Tuesday Judge Wilson, held a hearing requiring those who still hadn't come forward to pay a $15 fine for wasting the county's time and resources or spend the night in jail.
Still 10 people haven't responded. For those remaining ten people who have not filled out the questionnaire or paid the fine, the judge issued a warrant for their arrest. Meaning the next time they get something like a speeding ticket, they could actually spend the weekend in jail. Bond will cost $2,500, and they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
"Quite often jurors, when they come in they are really disgruntled, but then once they get through the process, we get a lot of good feedback that they were really happy they did it and they really wish they could be a juror on a trial," said Jackie Niciporek, the jury coordinator for Jackson county.
There are several reasons people can get out of jury duty, including: if they have moved, are over 70-years-old, are active duty military, are not U.S. citizens, have a medical excuse, or have committed a felony.
The vast majority of potential jurors who do fill out the questionnaire are rarely used, and those who do serve usually only spend half a day.
"Some people say we are wasting our time. 'Why is the courthouse wasting their time not getting the criminals," but it's a civic duty. This is something that you're supposed to do and when you are not doing it you are breaking the law. So you're a criminal, if you're not returning it--not the criminals that we all want to see get put away, but you're still breaking the law," said Niciporek.
If you know any of the following 10 people in Jackson give them a heads up, so they can get this taken care of and hopefully avoid jail time.
Arrest Warrants to be submitted for the following Jackson residents:
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