COVID-19 has been blamed for everything from global supply chain problems to schoolchildren’s lagging academic achievement. And Vance Clerk of Superior Court Henry Gupton said the current lack of jurors for local trials could also be blamed on the virus.
Gupton told WIZS News Friday that for the next five Mondays, the juror pool will bump up to 150 people receiving notices to show up to court for possible jury selection.
“We didn’t have enough Monday a week ago,” Gupton said. Of the 106 summonses that were sent, only 38 people showed up. Some of that number, he said, were excused for medical or other reasons of hardship. “But of those not excused, 38 showed up.”
The summons is not something to ignore, and Gupton said resident Superior Court Judge Cynthia Sturges could step up the process to find out why folks aren’t showing up.
“She’s contemplating how she wants to handle it,” Gupton said, adding that a decision hasn’t been reached yet.
A capital murder trial is slated to begin in Vance County on Sept. 26, but there has to be a sufficient jury pool from which to select a jury. Gupton said the jury selection process could be extended to the first two weeks in September.
“How are we going to administer justice if we don’t have jurors to do it?” Gupton asked.
Sheriff’s deputies could come knocking on your door to find out why you didn’t comply with the summons to appear for jury selection.
“We’ve got to get jurors, there’s no question about that, we’ve got to get jurors,” he said.