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Judge unimpressed with jurors’ excuses

A West Virginia judge handed out $50 fines for eight citizens who failed to show up for a recent scheduled trial. The large number of no-shows forced a mistrial in a burglary case, and the victim has since died.

Fayette County Circuit Judge John Hatcher said he had two jurors in tears as they appeared before him, contrite over their failure to acknowledge their civic duty. Others have been less sincere, the judge told The [Beckley] Register-Herald.

“One woman wrote in and wanted off jury duty because she couldn’t make decisions affecting other people’s lives,” the judge said. She worked as a babysitter.

The judge wrote back, “I’m baffled by the reason you want off. Because, being a grandfather, I know that babysitting requires you to make decisions about other people’s lives every few minutes.”

Others cited the Bible’s admonition about judging, and some claimed they were against capital punishment – even though West Virginia dropped the death penalty in 1965.

“It’s really disheartening to see the number of people who really do not want to serve,” Hatcher said.

By Peter Vieth

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