Jury duty dodgers will be facing repercussions

OKEECHOBEE – The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Monday afternoon concerning the recent lack of turnout after jury duty summons were sent out.

According to Public Information Officer, Michelle Bell, 325 jury duty summons were sent out in Oct., but even after being warned of stiff consequences for failing to appear, 125 residents chose to ignore their summons.

Therefore, ALL 125 individuals will be receiving an order to show cause from the Circuit Court judge. Officer Bell explained “an order to show cause is an order issued by the court advising the individual they must appear in court on a specified date and time to give reasons (show cause) why they failed to attend the jury summons.”

Sheriff Noel Stephen stated, “I cautioned folks that this was coming. Our due process requires our participation. The process is easy to receive excused absences, but unfortunately, these folks failed to follow those steps.” Sheriff Stephen went on to explain his deputies will have to take time away from enforcing traffic laws and other duties to personally serve 125 individuals with these Order to Show Causes. “It is my sincere hope that this does not continue,” he concluded.

Ignoring a jury duty summons is considered contempt of court which can be punishable by a fine of as little as $100 or as much as $1,000 or jail time of a few days up to a few months.

When you ignore a jury summons, you are hindering a court in its duties. In order for justice to be served, everyone has to do his part.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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