Hundreds of jury duty notices missed in Jefferson Parish each day

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 6, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 6 at 7:42 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

JEFFERSON, La. -- In the United States, defendants facing criminal charges have a due process right to be tried in front of a jury of their peers.

But in Jefferson Parish hundreds of jury duty notices sent out every day are either ignored or sent to the wrong address.

"I believe we send out 300 to 400 notices and we receive a jury yield of approximately 100 to 120 downstairs," said Chief Judge John Molaison.

The judge also said some mornings, a lack of potential jurors has caused delays.

"We may be delayed an hour and hour and a half in picking a jury while we wait for folks to filter through the process," said Molaison.

The judge said the database used to randomly select citizens for jury duty is not perfect.

The court's computer programmer Joe Sherrill said using voter registration and drivers license information often results in jury duty notices going to the wrong address.

"Voter registration records, people don't tend to change their addresses, so it's possible we send a subpoena to someone like that, they might not be there anymore," said Sherrill.

"Drivers license records are four-year licenses. That gives you a four-year window to move."

Sherrill said the problem is not unique to Jefferson Parish.

"What we have found is that the non-compliance issues, where people just don't show up or because we didn't contact them or they don't show because they didn't want to, that seems to be a national problem," said Sherrill.

If you receive two jury duty notices and fail to appear, JP sheriff's deputies will knock on your door and serve you with a summons.

Jury duty no-shows could face fines of up to $100.

In Jefferson Parish if you disregard your jury notice, you might have to explain yourself to a judge in a special compliance section of court.

"You have an opportunity to come in and explain your failure to appear before us for jury duty," said Molaison. "More often than not you purge yourself of those issues by simply agreeing to come in on a later date."

In Jefferson Parish, jury duty lasts for one-day or one trial. If you are picked to serve on a jury, you won't be eligible for jury duty for two years.

Tuesday, Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer met with a consultant for the Center for State Courts in Virginia.

He is hoping to come back with some new ideas on how to improve the jury duty notification system in the parish.

 

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