Last week, a juror in Mississippi was held in contempt of court, fined $100, and jailed for two days after she fell asleep during jury selection and then did not return for the remaining voir dire after the lunch break. I’m not sure what angered the judge the most, but I’ve seen jurors fall asleep multiple times (even during a trial), so I hope that the contempt charge arises from her leaving without permission; though in my opinion, a contempt charge with jail time is absolutely an over-reaction to the situation.
Perhaps the saddest thing (in an amusing sort of way) is that the juror didn’t even realize that the case was a murder charge. I’m not sure how they do it in Mississippi, but in Kentucky the judge reads the indictment at the beginning of voir dire, and the lawyers question the jurors about the issues in the case. Either this chick just wasn’t paying attention at all, or she fell asleep the moment she sat down.
In any event, this is a severe abuse of power by the judge. She should have simply been reprimanded and dismissed from jury service. We already have enough trouble with people wanting to sit on juries – holding potential jurors in contempt will only encourage more people to come up with (maybe bogus) reasons to avoid this civic duty.
Tags: Abuse of Power Attorney Charge Civic Duty Contempt Contempt of Court Criminal Defense Criminal Law Criminal Lawyer Fine Indictment Jail Judge Juries Jury Jury Selection Jury Service Kentucky Lawyer Louisville Louisville Lawyer Mississippi Murder Murder Charge Voir Dire