Clerical error cuts into Sedgwick County’s weekly jury pool

If the jury room on the first floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse seemed unusually quiet for a Monday, that’s because it was.

On a typical week, 250 notices are sent to prospective jurors, and 130 to 140 report for jury duty. They usually fill the jury room by 9 a.m.

This week’s notices, however, were never mailed. The week’s jury pool consisted of about 40 jurors, all of whom who had been deferred from jury duty in previous weeks.

“This is a one-time clerical error,” Chief Judge James Fleetwood said. “It’s never happened before, and we don’t expect it to happen again.”

Fleetwood said he couldn’t discuss whether any disciplinary action had been taken against the clerk who made the mistake, but he said additional training has been conducted to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

This weeks’ criminal court docket included one jury trial – a possession of stolen property case – and five alternate trials. Fleetwood said all six of those cases were disposed of Monday without juries through pleas, continuances or waivers of the right to a jury trial.

“We’re not aware of any trials that could not be tried for lack of jurors,” he said.

In Sedgwick County, jurors names are culled from voter’s and driver’s license records. Fleetwood said the addresses on those records often are old because people don’t make it a priority to notify the election office or Division of Motor Vehicles when they move.

He said the county’s response rate of more than 50 percent is considered good when compared with courts in other jurisdictions around the country.