Judge Gregory Holder scolds, but does not jail or fine no-show jurors

5:56 PM, Nov 4, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Judge scolds no-show jurors

 

Tampa, Florida -- More than 160 people who skipped jury duty last month got a stern lecture in a Hillsborough Circuit courtroom on Friday. 

The judge had threatened to send some of them to jail in order to set an example. For some, the slammer may still be an option.

There were 257 who were no-shows for jury duty on October 3rd, 2011. But threatened with fines and possible jail time, more than 160 of those same people packed into Judge Greg Holder's courtroom Friday morning.

The judge was so livid, he summoned them to his courtroom to explain why they had failed to perform their civic duty. 

See Also: Brevard judge summons no-show jurors to court

In some cases it was a simple mistake -- a wrong address or some other misunderstanding. But in a few instances, jurors had outright lied.

Holder singled-out a man name of Dovay Compton, who according to the judge, faked military service as an excuse for not showing up for jury duty.

"Is there any lawful reason I shouldn't take you into custody today?" Judge Holder asked of Dovay Compton.

"No sir," replied Compton.

The judge scolded Compton for allegedly faking military service to avoid jury duty.

"Somebody called and alleged that you were in the military. Somebody called and lied to me," said the judge.

In many cases, the jurors said they had not received the summons, because they had changed their address. Judge Holder reminded them -- and everyone else -- that if you move, you're obligated to update the information on your driver's license within 10 days.

In each instance, Judge Holder allowed the people, including Compton, to return to their seats rather than a jail cell.

But Holder's message was clear: "This country asks very little of you. This state asks very little of you. You know, vote and serve on juries."

Asked if anyone would prefer go to jail, the group answered with a resounding, unified chorus of "No."

The judge then asked the jurors to raise their hands if they promised to serve in January. All hands went up. Anyone planning to make an excuse? All hands went down.

"It was my fault. It was my stupidity for not going," said a would-be juror named Karen.

Judge Holder says he plans to keep tabs on the group to make sure they keep their promise.

As for the 94 people who were no-shows last month and once again on Friday with no excuse, the judge said he might give them one more chance to show up for jury duty in January.

If they don't, he says he may issue warrants for their arrest.

Judge Holder wasn't the only chastising judge on Friday. Over in Brevard County, another judge summoned 51 people who had previously skipped jury duty.

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