By Josh Allen
ONL Staff Reporter
With the Okfuskee County District Court jury trial docket coming at the end of this month, Court Clerk Sherri Foreman wants to make sure potential jurors are clear on what they need to do when a summons is received.
Foreman said the October 29 docket is the largest jury trial docket she’s seen since taking office.
That being said, the process goes like this:
In the weeks leading up to the docket, District Judge Lawrence Parish makes a written order, what Foreman called a request, and submits it to the court clerk’s office.
The request is for jurors. For this docket, Parish requested 350 jurors for the docket.
“By an unofficial rule, we expect only about a third of those potential jurors to show up,” Foreman said.
Once the request is in, the court clerk’s office uses a system — known as a Juror Management System — that automates the selection process, picking Okfuskee County residents, and returns a list of names that will be sent summons to be jurors.
An agency outside the state of Oklahoma compiles those names and sends summons to each of them, Foreman said.
Once a juror gets that summons, Foreman said it is very important to contact her office — the Okfuskee County Court Clerk’s Office — and provide personal contact information.
“There are ways jurors can be exempt, but exemptions have to be signed off on by Judge Parish,” Foreman said. “He will only read potential exemptions through October 22.”
There are several reasons a person could be exempt from jury duty … one of those reasons not being that one doesn’t want to do it.
One such exemption is if a person is 70 years old or older. Not only can they be exempt, but they can also opt to have their name removed from the service list.
Convicted felons are also excused from jury duty.
Foreman said if someone has a scheduling conflict, such as a medical appointment, vacation or something of the like, they may could be excused. Financial hardship is also something the judge may consider a reason to be excused from duty.
“All exemptions are up to the judge,” Foreman said. “That is why it is important that when you receive a summons to get in contact with my office, and if you want to be exempt we can tell you the proper process for the judge to approve or disapprove any exemption.”
Foreman reiterated, “The judge will only consider exemptions through October 22. After that, anyone summoned for jury duty will be expected to be there Oct. 29 at 8 a.m.
To ignore the summons and not show up without an exemption, Judge Parish can file contempt of court against an individual and tack on a fine, Foreman said.
Those that are going to serve jury duty should show up to the Okfuskee County Court House at 8 a.m. on October 29.
Foreman said to make sure those serving bring the summons they received in the mail. It will be scanned as a check-in method that morning.
The court pays jurors $20 per day, plus the statutory rate for mileage during trial.
“The most important thing is that potential jurors contact the court clerk’s office as soon as they receive their summons,” Foreman said. “That will make the process much smoother and alleviate a lot of problems in the beginning.”