HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Cabell County summonsed 35 jurors to court Thursday after they had failed to show up when called upon during the summer.
Only 10 appeared for their tongue lashing from two circuit judges, while 25 others ignored the court’s order, a turnout that illustrates the county’s ongoing struggle to convince its residents to take jury duty seriously.
Those summonsed to appear were among 350 selected for potential jury service earlier this summer. Such a wide net yielded just 50 qualified jurors — too few for the court to host two trials at once.
Many of the 350 were excused, while court officials believe those called in Thursday ignored the notice altogether.
One man said he was so busy that he forgot, while several others told the court they never received their initial notice to appear. Regardless of the reasoning, this week’s meeting comes on the heels of prosecutors having to accept a misdemeanor plea in July when too few jurors forced court officials to cancel a felony burglary trial.
Cabell Circuit Judges Paul T. Farrell and Chris Chiles stopped short of issuing fines Thursday, but pleaded with those in attendance to be vigilant in urging their colleagues, friends and family members to do their civic duty.
“This is real life,” Farrell said. “We’re dealing with people accused of major crimes, doctors with medical malpractice issues and people who have been injured in car wrecks. We need the public to be responsive so we can have a complete system here, where we have judges, prosecutors, attorneys and jurors from all sections of the community…