Juror shortage causes concern in Pickens County - FOX Carolina 21

Juror shortage causes concern in Pickens County

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PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate Clerk of Court is speaking out about an issue he says is getting worse in Pickens County.

Pat Welborn says there is a juror shortage, and it's not just happening in his county.

"Currently we have had as little as 30 percent of people who show up, and we're averaging about 40 to 45 percent," he said.

Welborn said people don’t show up for a number of reasons, sometimes related to jobs, childcare or family obligations.  He said it’s gotten so bad, they even had to postpone a trial in August because not enough jurors had responded to their summons.  And that can get costly for taxpayers. 

“It delayed our court session," Welborn said. "It cost people a lot of money because defense attorneys are paid, judges are paid, court reporters, it really gets into a lot of money.”

He added, at one point a judge had to issue bench warrants to try to track down the jurors who weren’t showing up.

“To have to arrest a juror for not showing up to me would be terrible, but we've got to get the public’s attention," he said.

Pickens resident Libbi Durham said she’s served on a jury before, and loved the experience.

“I enjoyed it," she said. "I learned more about my community and I learned about the due process of the law that I had always heard about.”

Welborn said he hears similar stories after talking to jurors who have served on a jury.

“Most people who come in to do their jury duty, everyone dreads it," Welborn said. "But, by the time they leave, if they've served on a jury, most people - not everybody but most people - say it's been a really good experience.  It brings to light how important they are as jurors.”

Welborn also said there are certain exemptions that allow people not to serve on juries.  Those are listed at the bottom of the juror summons notice sent in the mail and just need to be checked off and mailed back in.

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