The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 10, 2013

Jury duty no-shows get chance to explain

EBENSBURG — Monday is reckoning day for the more than two dozen Cambria County residents who last month ignored a summons for jury duty.

County Judge Norman Krumenacker said certified letters have been sent to those individuals ordering them to show up in his courtroom at 9 a.m. Monday to explain why they did not respond to the legal summons.

“They must appear to explain why they didn’t show up,” Krumenacker said. “For those that don’t show up, it could result in a bench warrant for their arrest.”

While ignoring county jury duty summons is described as a problem statewide, it is not being taken lightly by Cambria County President Judge Timothy Creany and the other four sitting judges who agreed three months ago that it is time to crack down.

A warning went out in February when about 25 percent of those summoned failed to respond. Twenty-eight people failed to respond to the April 4 jury selection, prompting Creany to take the next step.

He appointed Krumenacker to call the people in and find out what’s going on.

After letters were sent to the 28, Krumenacker’s office received a number of responses, some from people with legitimate reasons for not showing, including one man with the National Guard who is deployed.

There also appears to be what Krumenacker termed several people who appear to have medical conditions making it difficult to serve.

Another reason for ignoring the summons, while not an acceptable excuse, is one Krumenacker has heard.

Cambria County pays $9 per day for jury duty service, and if an employer does not make up the difference, fulfilling this civic duty can result in financial hardship.

“We’ll look at each individual situation and those that have acceptable reasons, we’ll excuse them from future service,” he said. “If they have no valid reason, we’ll evaluate and determine if a monetary penalty is appropriate.”

That penalty could reach $100.

For those who choose to ignore the fine, service of a different nature may be imposed, he said.

“If they don’t pay the fine, they could be incarcerated for up to 10 days,” Krumenacker said.

The number of no-shows for jury duty has grown since the county changed its approach to getting people to Ebensburg for jury duty.

Until a few years ago, the names were pulled from voter registration lists only. Since Creany became president judge, he 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.

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