The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 7, 2013

Jury duty no-shows targeted: Could face $100 fine

EBENSBURG — Jury selection was held Thursday for a host of criminal cases in Cambria County court, and when 43 of the 215 county residents ordered to appear just didn’t show, the judges here said they’ve had enough.

Effective with the prospective jurors summoned to appear for the next round April 4, those without a preapproved dismissal who fail to show will be ordered to appear at a hearing.

If they are found in contempt of court, they will be fined $100, a new initiative that has received the support of all five county judges, President Judge Timothy Creany said late Thursday.

“My colleagues and I are pretty fair,” Creany said. “We want to be fair. We want people to understand they have this obligation and we’re prepared to fine them.”

Judge Norman Krumenacker was taken aback when jury selection for a murder trial last month should have brought in 128 potential jurors, but 31 people were no-shows. No excuses, no calls to the courthouse, he said.

Cambria County is one of the more lenient counties in the region when it comes to excusing people summoned for jury duty, court administrator William Valko said.

“We excuse many more than most counties,” Valko said.

While  jury duty no-shows are not new in Cambria County, Creany said it has become an increasing problem since the list of potential jurors was expanded recently.

Previously, the names were pulled from voter registration lists, but Creany, as president judge, expanded the potential pool to include state driver’s license listings, state Department of Revenue tax filing records and state Department of Public Welfare data.

But Creany believes jury duty is the responsibility of every U.S. citizen, and he compares it to serving in the military.  

Quoting a Supreme Court judge, Creany said asking to determine the guilt or innocence of another is one of the highest expressions of citizenship.

While jury duty may be an inconvenience, it is far better than asking a biased person to make a decision about a fellow citizen’s fate, he said.

The no-shows will be given an opportunity to provide an excuse why they failed to respond to the jury duty summons, but the judges are ready to act, Krumenacker said.

“We just have to put some teeth into it (jury selection process), he said “It’s not fair to those who do show up and do their duty.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads