Karen McMillan walked into the jury room in the Weld County Courthouse on Wednesday morning, trying to keep her feet from pounding the floor out of frustration.
"This is not right," McMillan told court administrators, who minutes before had served her with an emergency jury summons in the downtown Greeley Safeway.
"You need to give us warning," McMillan said. "We have jobs to go to."
McMillan was picking up a few things at the grocery store and trying to get to work when she was approached by a court administrator who told she had to drop everything and go to the courthouse to serve.
She was one of nearly 70 people walking around downtown Greeley who were summoned to emergency jury duty Wednesday morning after many people who were summoned by mail six weeks ago didn't show up.
The no-shows left judges and administrators scrambling to fill jury boxes. The administrators eventually got an order from Judge Roger Klein to serve people on the street with summonses to report immediately.
Of the 200 summonses Weld County and District Court administrators sent by mail recently, only 39 people did their civic duty and reported for jury duty Wednesday morning. By early Wednesday afternoon, more than 50 people had reported to emergency jury duty, many perturbed that they had to drop everything to possibly serve on a jury.
"I have like 5 tons of stuff to do at work," McMillan said.
Karen Salaz, judicial district administrator, said that the court rarely has to resort to plucking people from the street to serve on juries.
Salaz said in an e-mail that it had been more than 15 years since the court has had to take people off the streets to serve. The court resorted to the measure in November and again Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, downtown business owners were worried about a possible loss of business because they had to serve.
Beth Tadier, who owns Quarter Moon Glass Repair, was coming out of the downtown Safeway when she was handed the emergency summons and couldn't go back to her business to help her husband.
"You're just jerked off the street," Tadier said. "I was angry, but I've calmed down."
The missing jurors also caused some lawyers to object to the use of emergency jurors in their trials.
Stephanie Stout, a state public defender, asked County Judge Michele Meyer to stop the jurors from being put on a drunken-driving case that she was defending because she said the method used to select the jurors wasn't random and that upset people could affect the jury's ability to make an objective decision. The judge rejected the objection.
People who don't show up for jury duty can face a fine or even six months in jail.
Failure to appear
* In Weld County, people who don't show up for jury duty could be charged with failure to obey a juror summons, a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $750 fine and or six months in jail.
Rocky Mountain News