The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 13, 2013

Jury scofflaws appear before Cambria judge

EBENSBURG — Cambria County’s recent crackdown on residents who refuse to respond to a summons for jury duty appears to be turning into a lesson for both sides.

Most of the 28 people who did not show up for jury duty last month were in the courthouse Monday in response to a certified letter threatening a $100 fine if a reason for ignoring the summons was not adequate.

When the dust settled in the courtroom of Judge Norman Krumenacker, 21 were given a second chance and told they will be part of the potential jury panel calls for criminal and civil courts cases on Aug. 1 and 27.

Five were able to provide legitimate excuses for not showing on April 4 – one was for military service and four were health-related.

One was a complete no-show. Krumenacker said he has a lead on the person’s location, and he will take further action.

“Of the 21, I didn’t find any flagrant violators,” he said.

The only one to be fined was a middle-aged woman, who had to pay $50.

“She showed up late, said she overslept,” Krumenacker said.

The woman was to be at the courthouse at 9 a.m. but came in around 11.

The crackdown on no-shows was announced in February, when nearly 25 percent of potential jurors didn’t show up the day of jury selection and failed to contact the courthouse to offer a reason why they were unable to appear.

Krumenacker said he plans to meet with President Judge Timothy Creany and Judges Linda Fleming, Patrick Kiniry and David Tulowitzki to discuss some changes that may need to be made to the summons sent out to notify residents they need to show up on a specific time and date.

“I think our notice is adequate, but people don’t read it adequately,” he said. “Several people expressed confusion.”

But after listening to so many people who appeared to be truly confused by the summons, the notice should be addressed.

“We need to redraft it,” Krumenacker said.

Some people thought they would receive a second notice as the date of their required appearance grew closer.

Others, familiar with jury systems in other counties, said they thought they were to call a number to learn if and what day they were to show up at the courthouse.

The number of no-shows began to increase after the court changed the sources used to enlist jurors.

The past practice of relying only on voter registration roles was expanded several years ago to include public welfare, state driver’s license and state Department of Revenue listings.

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