Jury duty no-shows in Jensen trial fined $100
Opting not to impose jail time, Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison on Thursday fined two people $100 apiece, while ordering 20 hours of public service, for skipping out on jury duty service in January during Heather Jensen’s trial.
The no-show jurors, Suzannah Wolcott and Brian Ludlow, also heard a firm lecture from the judge during a contempt hearing. Wolcott and Ludlow were issued summonses to appear Thursday. The judge noted arrest warrants could have been issued.
“Jury service is a cornerstone of our democracy and everybody needs to take it seriously,” Robison said, while acknowledging people have “varying degrees of enthusiasm” for serving on a jury.
“It’s part of our civic duty,” the judge added.
Robison could have imposed fines up to $750, and up to six months jail, for the failure to report back to general jury selection in Jensen’s case on Jan. 21. Wolcott and Ludlow both appeared at the Mesa County Justice Center as they and several hundred other candidates completed questionnaires specific to Jensen’s case. All were ordered by the judge to return on Jan. 21.
Wolcott, a senior at Colorado Mesa University, told the judge that was the first day of the school semester and her only opportunity to enroll in a physics class needed for graduation. Wolcott said she assumed she was free from jury service after reading a story in the Daily Sentinel, which included information about other CMU students being excused by the judge early on during jury selection. She apologized to the judge.
“I didn’t realize this case was such a big issue,” Wolcott said, who retained a private attorney for Wednesday’s hearing.
Brian Ludlow said appearing on Jan. 21 would have meant forfeiting a work-related promotion with his employer that required a trip to Greeley.
“I just bought a house, I need this job and promotion,” he said, apologizing.
Robison gave Wolcott and Ludlow the option of completing public service through the Food For Thought program of Mesa County, which allows people to buy their way out of public service hours. The funds support several Grand Valley nonprofit organizations.
Some 550 summonses for jury duty were mailed in advance of Jensen’s trial.