WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The judges, deputies and clerks showed up for court, but one key element was missing: No one had invited any jurors.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that North Carolina’s fourth-largest county failed to mail notices to the 1,700 or so prospective jurors needed to hear cases this week.
After no one showed up for jury duty Monday, Forsyth County officials made a plea through local television station WXII for any volunteers willing to fulfill their civic duty.
But only 19 people showed up Tuesday. One judge in the county of 370,000 residents even sent deputies to a mall to seek volunteers, but found no other takers.
“We don’t have enough jurors,” Judge Stuart Albright said in court Tuesday afternoon before dismissing the few who had shown up.
New notices were sent asking hundreds of prospective jurors to be there Thursday, while other trials were postponed until next week.
Normally, a county printing office makes the notices and sends them. That happens after a jury clerk determines how many prospective panelists are needed and uses a system to select them at random, Forsyth County Clerk of Court Susan Frye said in an email.
But this time, the notices weren’t mailed because of an error by someone in the county print shop, said Kirby Robinson, the county’s property manager.
“It’s an unfortunate thing, and we sincerely apologize to the people who were inconvenienced,” he told the newspaper.
Frye said this is the only time this kind of error has happened during her eight years as clerk of court. She said she’s working with the county to ensure the mistake “does not occur again.”