John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
A trial that has already been delayed twice was delayed again after a number of citizens did not show up for jury selection.
On Tuesday, Oct. 31, citizens selected for jury selection called the number given to them by the Clerk of Court’s Office. The number was to inform the citizens if they needed to be in attendance for jury selection. A majority of the citizens who called received the message saying they weren't needed, but the message was for a trial date from earlier in October. The message was not stating that all jurors were excused from the Nov. 1 selection date.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, jury selection was held, and the trial was set to begin following the selection process. A number of citizens were selected to go through the process of gathering a jury for a trial. Judge Andrew Decker was close to seating a jury when he learned there were not enough citizens in attendance to complete a jury, which consists of twelve jurors and two alternates. The lack of sufficient attendees was due to the message some had received on the previous evening.
Judge Decker ordered subpoenas to all citizens who did not show up for jury selection on Wednesday, Nov. 1 and around 45 citizens, who were not previously excused from jury duty, were in court on Thursday, Nov. 16. The subpoenas were for the purpose of making sure everyone who missed jury duty on Wednesday, Nov. 1, whether by accident or purposefully, would show up on the court date of Thursday, Nov. 16 to be taught “the importance of jury duty.”
Madison County Clerk of Court, Billy Washington, admits that the recording was set on the wrong prompt for an estimated five minutes before he realized it was not the right prompt. All potential jurors were put back into the county jury pool to be selected at a later date.