Jury duty no shows a growing problem in Chesterfield

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In Chesterfield Circuit Court there are hundreds of cases seen by judges every day and thousands throughout the year but more and more some of those cases are being put on hold and aren’t able to move forward, because of a growing issue of people not showing up for jury duty.

“I don’t know that the average citizen understands the ramifications of not showing up,” said Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk Wendy Hughes.

Hughes says her staff works tirelessly to make sure a jury pool shows up for scheduled trials. In addition to sending summonses, they also send and information sheets explaining what to do and what could happen if you don’t show up.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” said Hughes.

Those moving parts include preparation by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Both sides gather witnesses, and evidence for a trial that’s scheduled months in advance. Hughes says when jurors don’t show up, it can cause a delay leaving victims, and the accused without a resolution for months.

“Put yourself in their shoes, and if you’ve waited so many months to have your day in court and then you find out that you’re not able to go forward, your life is on hold,” said Hughes.

“It’s a serious matter. This isn’t junk mail and isn’t spam. This is a legal document requesting your presences for jury duty,” said Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard.

Leonard says the judges are getting closer to sending deputies out to retrieve jurors who don’t show up in the future.

“In the near future you may see deputies actually going out in the community finding those who were supposed to sit on juries who didn’t come,” said Leonard.

Last year more than one hundred people were called to explain why they failed to show in front of a judge. Of those 24 people were found in contempt of court. Hughes wants to remind people that it is against the law to skip jury duty and you could face a fine of up to $200.

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