Would-be Jensen jurors face charge of contempt

A Mesa County judge has issued contempt-of-court charges against two local residents who allegedly failed to show for jury duty in Heather Jensen’s trial.

District Judge Valerie Robison last week ordered that two people — who weren’t immediately identified — should “show cause” why they shouldn’t be held in contempt after they appeared in Robison’s courtroom on Jan. 15 in order to complete questionnaires for jury service in Jensen’s case, and after they received a summons to appear. They were among a crowd of would-be jurors who were admonished and told to return to court the following Tuesday, Jan. 21, which was the start of Jensen’s trial.

Instead, they were no-shows.

Mesa County Jury Commissioner Rose Anne Kelley said contempt charges from jury duty non-appearances haven’t been seen in Mesa County since the aftermath of another trial in 2010. Some 550 summonses for jury duty were mailed for Jensen’s trial.

“Most people, once they are in the courtroom, wouldn’t dream of not reporting back when the judge tells them to,” Kelley said.

If found guilty by the judge, each person could be fined up to $750 and jailed up to six months, she said.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is expected to serve each resident, individually, with their respective contempt citations. If they fail to appear in court for the contempt hearings, arrest warrants will be issued, Kelley said.

In 2013, jurors in Mesa County reported to some 141 district or county court trials, 66 of which ended with a verdict, Kelley said.

Each year, roughly a quarter of Mesa County’s population receives a summons for jury duty.


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