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Wasatch County is experiencing problems summoning residents to jury duty

Fourth District Court in Heber City
Courtesy John Deacon
Fourth District Court in Heber City

Some Wasatch County residents ran afoul of the law recently when they failed to show up for jury duty. Jury summons sent by email were getting lost. 

Utah State Courts spokeswoman Tania Mashburn said there were multiple trials in the past few months where approximately a dozen people summoned for jury duty didn’t show up.

Failing to show up for jury duty can come with legal consequences. Those include fines or jail time if a judge determines a jury summons has been deliberately ignored.

According to Mashburn, the problem was so persistent in Fourth District Court that Judge Jennifer Mabey issued a court order demanding the missing prospective jurors come in to explain why they had failed to show for jury duty.

Mimi McDonald is one of the Wasatch County residents who had Mabey’s order hand-delivered to her door by a police officer.

In an Instagram story, McDonald said she received an email survey about jury duty eligibility. She filled out the survey but got no other emails from the court. About two weeks later an officer showed up at her door. He handed her papers and said they were for jury duty. McDonald didn’t realize she might be in trouble.

“I'm like, oh goodness, this is intense. They're not messing around," she said. "They have an officer come to your house to tell you that you’re, you know, being summoned to jury duty.”

McDonald later appeared in Mabey’s court with around nine others who had received a similar summons from the judge. That’s when she realized the papers she got from the police were not a jury summons.

“Then it dawns on me, oh, I'm in trouble,” she laughed. “This isn’t the jury, I am here to plead my case of innocence.”

McDonald said everyone told the judge the same story: they completed a survey but were never called for jury duty.

All of the cases were dismissed. Mashburn said clerks are investigating why people haven’t been receiving the email.

Learn more about jury service here.