Lane County residents called to jury duty on streets

Lane County residents called to jury duty on streets »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- No one really likes showing up for jury duty.  On Wednesday, enough people were no-shows at the Lane County Courthouse that judges couldn't seat enough jurors to fill all the juries they had no.

So Lane County Sheriff's deputies hit Pearl Street to fill the seats. 

Judge Mary Ann Bearden ordered them to pick random people off the streets.

The only requirements: they had to be U.S. citizens with no felony convictions. 

Sgt. Doug Osborne said the potential jurors were nice about their surprise summons but not entirely convinced it was real.

"I said, really you're not on camera, they're looking around to see if they're on camera and it was a joke," he said.

It might seem like a joke, but it is state law.

It is seldom used, but Oregon Revised Statute 1.235 (4) reads: If there is an immediate need for additional jurors, a judge of the circuit court for the county may direct the clerk of court, sheriff or other officer to summon a sufficient number of eligible persons to meet that need. Those persons shall be summoned as directed by the judge.

The deputies found 12 people.  Five were seated on juries that day. 

Court officials say this is a rare event, that's happened only twice in the last 25 years.

Acting court administrator Liz Rambo says it was due to a smaller than normal jury pool, a higher percentage of no-shows and three criminal trials starting Wednesday--a combination of events that will likely not happen again.

People who do not show up for jury duty and who have not submitted the form explaining why they cannot be there can face contempt of court charges.

Rambo says that is rarely, if ever, enforced.