Cascade County Officials Are Cracking Down On Ditching Out Of Jury Duty
I get it; jury duty can suck, especially when you have a million things going on and can't afford to take the time off.
What makes this country so great is the fact that the people are the government, hence why a jury of their peers judges citizens of the United States.
The problem is that more folks aren't showing up for their civic duty.
This has led to a backlog of court cases and significant delays in the courtroom.
The last time I had jury duty, the jury selection was delayed almost two hours because not enough folks showed up.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the days of skipping out on jury duty have come to an end,
The Cascade County Sheriff's Office is planning to put a stop to no-shows.
Like many other jurisdictions, Cascade County had a well-established practice for selecting jurors.
This process involved sending notices to potential jurors by mail, including a questionnaire, with a requirement to return the document to the clerk's office.
This method is applied to cases in the district court.
The New Approach
In 2022, a new method was introduced.
The change included sending postcards early in the year notifying jurors of their selection without requiring immediate action.
Specific summonses and questionnaires were sent about four weeks before trial dates.
Unfortunately, this new approach encountered significant challenges.
One of the critical issues was the high number of non-responses to the questionnaires.
This has led to delays in empaneling juries and conducting trials.
The prolonged time defendants spent in jail has resulted in jail overcrowding.
In August, defense attorneys raised concerns about the new process during criminal trials.
This prompted the need for immediate changes.
Reversion to the Previous Method
To address the challenges and comply with state law, the clerk of the court's office in Cascade County has returned to the previous method.
This means jurors are again required to respond promptly to questionnaires—failure to do so results in the sheriff's office making multiple attempts at service.
Sheriff's Office Response
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter emphasized the importance of jurors responding to summonses promptly.
If the summons is not responded to, Cascade County Officials will begin calling the individuals.
If contact is still not made, those names will be published publicly.
If there is no response, a CCSO Deputy will make a third in-person contact attempt.
Judges can hold individuals in contempt for failing to respond to jury summonses.