(WSPA) – The state is facing a serious shortage of qualified jurors and our area is certainly no exception.
Several clerks of court in the Upstate say people just aren’t showing up for jury duty.
In fact, just this morning, there were 34 no-shows out of a jury pool of 100 in Spartanburg County.
And if this continues, it could lead to a number of canceled trials.
“They could face jail time and that is a real possibility going forward,” said Spartanburg Clerk of Court, M. Hope Blackley. “And that’s where we are heading just based on the fact we have to have people show up.”
Statistics show that, nationwide, an average of 32 million people are summoned for jury duty a year, but only about 8 million actually show up.
“I’ve been doing this for about nine years now and our percentage has dropped to about 30 percent sometimes of people not showing up and we spend a lot of money on postage,” said Pickens County Clerk of Court Pat Welborn.
Overall case outcomes can be impacted if people don’t show up.
“We would not be to go forward with that trial if we don’t have enough individuals in a jury pool which would cost us money,”
There are a number of reasons for people not showing up–some boiling down to the simple fact that they can’t afford it, since not all employers are required to pay you while you serve.
“Folks not being able to take care of their family or provide because they can’t afford to miss a paycheck is a real concern,”
And in Spartanburg, other issues have arisen.
“Potential jurors who feel like they can’t serve because of the issues with the mold we’ve had in the courthouse and we have had a juror or two actually present doctors notes because of possible mold exposure,”
But for now, all these counties can do is summon double the numbers they need in hopes that what they need shows up.