Jury duty no-shows lead to crackdown by 2nd N.S. judge
Judges fed up with high percentage of people skipping court
A judge in Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ordered sheriffs to round up seven people who didn’t show up in court after being summoned for jury duty.
Justice Glen McDougall told the sheriffs he wanted "every effort possible expended, and nothing short of a grave marker" would satisfy him.
Several judges and sheriffs say the rate of absenteeism is getting out of hand.
Last fall, 110 people in the Halifax area didn’t show up for jury selection for a murder trial.
"There’s too many people not taking their responsibility seriously enough," said Sheriff David MacNeil. "It’s become ridiculous."
MacNeil said he’s glad to see the judges taking action.
"On any given jury, the absentee rate is between 50 and 75. It’s fairly high."
Several who missed the murder trial were ordered to appear in court before MacDougall Thursday morning, including Stephen Richards.
He said he never received the two summonses that were sent to his home in Lower Sackville. The judge accepted his explanation under the condition he repeat it under oath.
Richards’ lawyer, Duane Rhyno, said the court should consider changes to the system to ensure everyone is informed about court dates.
"The only thing I would suggest is for it to be first sent out by registered mail, so we can have some proof that these jurors got it," said Rhyno.
The crackdown is far from over. McDougall issued seven more subpoenas Thursday.
Earlier this week, a judge referred to a "flabby, sad generation" that frequently skipped calls for jury duty. Justice Joseph Kenney ordered sheriff’s deputies to tell missing jurors to bring their toothbrushes because they may face jail time when they answer his questions about why they didn’t show up.
With files from Preston Mulligan.