Deputies look for no-show prospective jurors at homes - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Deputies look for no-show prospective jurors at homes

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX (KXXV) -

Ten McLennan County Sheriff deputies have started looking for prospective jurors that did not show up for jury duty on Feb. 20 and a court hearing with a judge last week.

The MCSO received nearly 200 writs of attachment, which is similar to a warrant. With the writ, deputies can go to someone's home and take that person back to the courthouse with them to see McLennan County 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson.

"Our primary focus is to get as many of these writs served so we can get the people in before the court,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

Four of them were brought before the judge, three of whom were rescheduled for jury service. One of them was excused. In addition, one person called saying he was not a U.S. Citizen. According to McLennan County District Clerk Jon Gimble, that man told officials he was registered to vote but had not done so. McLennan County uses voter registration and driver’s licenses lists for their jury database.

"We've reminded the public that jury duty is important. It's an important constitutional right or involved in a legal dispute and they can't exercise their right if people won't follow their duty to show up for jury service,” Gimble said.

On Feb. 20, more than 360 people didn’t show up to jury duty. Last week, nearly 300 people were expected to show up for a cause hearing to explain the reason for their absence, but only 75 of them attended.

"The good news is we've gotten more than 50 people to come and reschedule their jury duty and I imagine a few more will do that,” Gimble said.

Ten percent of the prospective jurors summoned had incorrect addresses or had moved out of McLennan County.

Gimble said sending a law enforcement agency to look for those who did not show up to court twice is not the intention.

“If we are able to meet our juror needs, we don’t have to send sheriff deputies, that’s not why we are here. We are here to serve the people of McLennan County,” Gimble said.

Sheriff deputies are expected to continue serving the writs in the next few days for the at least 172 people unaccounted for.

"I don't know that we've ever done it is in this scale before while I've been here in the last four years,” McNamara said.

He added searching for them put a strain in manpower since ten deputies have been assigned to this task.

"A lot of them are investigators or patrol deputies and they really need to be taking care of other business. It's taking them away of what they normally would be doing to take care of this people,” McNamara said.

The sheriff added he hopes this doesn’t happen again.

Johnson will make the ultimate decision on whether those unaccounted for would be held in contempt of court, which can be punishable with a fine of up to $1,000.

Copyright 2017 KXXV. All rights reserved.

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