Prospective jurors ordered to show-cause hearing

A 22-year-old Three Rivers man who neglected to return a juror questionnaire was found in contempt during a show-cause hearing last week by St. Joseph County Circuit Court Judge Paul Stutesman.
The man was one of 13 people who failed to report for jury duty Dec. 16, forcing Stutesman to delay a trial. The 13 were ordered to attend Friday’s show-cause hearing and explain the reasons for their absences.
Those in attendance were called before Stutesman one at a time. Over the course of 35 minutes, Stutesman learned that some simply forgot, one woman was at her grandfather’s deathbed – a claim verified in a letter from Thurston Woods – one man said he got the date confused with a bill that was due Dec. 17, and a few others said they never received the jury summons.
In most cases, the prospective jurors apologized and provided what Stutesman determined were valid explanations.
Stutesman said the Dec. 16 incident was the first time in his 10 years as a judge that he had to call off a jury trial for lack of prospective jurors.
Seventeen people attended a show-cause hearing in November and all were pardoned by Stutesman.

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