PARK CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – This time, prospective jurors did appear in court. In December, 31-prospective jurors failed to appear for a high profile rape trial.
Three Vernal men are accused of raping a little girl. The case was moved to Summit County. But when the prosecution and the defense failed to seat a jury with those who did appear, a mistrial was called.
That prompted judge Keith Holmberg to issue a summons for the jurors who failed to show for jury duty. Judge Holmberg said there are acceptable reasons for missing jury duty.
He said undue hardship such as caring for the elderly or children, an illness or injury.
“When you are summoned for jury service you are required for a term of normally six months,” he told the no show jurors.
He said failing to appear can lead to a contempt of court citation and it carried penalties of up to $1,000 in fines, 30-days in jail.
“Usually a judge will impose community service,” Judge Holmberg said.
One by one, the 31 jurors stood before the judge explaining their reasons for missing jury duty.
“Some of the questions were painful,” said juror number 7.
“I had been a rape victim and it was a violent rape by a stranger and I said that in questionnaire.. I felt I could not serve without prejudice.”
The judge did not want their identities released. But he told the woman that she was excused and there would be no sanctions against her. “
“I was diagnosed with cancer,” said juror number 13. “I’ve been dealing with … chemotherapy.”
Most jurors told the judge they either didn’t see or get a yellow card that instructs them to appear for jury duty.
For the most part the judge understood their reasoning. Some were ordered to perform community service, others had their jury duty extended for another six months. Two failed to show up for Thursday’s hearing. A bench warrant was issued for their arrest.