Sheriff ordered to round up people for jury duty in Dodge Co.

Published On: Jan 24 2013 05:47:29 AM HST
JUNEAU, Wis. -

The sheriff of Dodge County was asked to round up a jury off the street after the flu outbreak wiped out the jury box.

Lyn Hron, clerk of courts for Dodge County, said the sex assault trial for 30-year-old David Ennenga, of Waupun, was set to begin Tuesday morning, but at the last minute, Judge Brian Pfitzinger realized he needed six more jurors because the people selected in a jury pool called out sick.

Neither the assistant district attorney nor the defense attorney felt comfortable with the lack of people sitting on this trial, so they asked the Sheriff's Department to go around town and round up people.

"The judge contacted me and told me to contact the sheriff, we need more jurors," said Hron.

"I'm not ordering the sheriff to go out at gunpoint and bring people in," said Pfitzinger.

A judge can ask a Sheriff's Department to find jurors, and authorities said those people could be held in contempt if they don’t comply.

"I think if you force people to jury duty, take them off the streets, out of restaurants or out of stores, first time on jury duty they may be bitter, and the last thing a prosecutor or defense attorney wants is a bitter jury member," said Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls.

Nehls didn’t like the idea of hitting the pavement, so he called in a group of retirees who regularly volunteer for the Sheriff's Department.

"They are not law enforcement officers, they are not trained in law enforcement, they are just homemakers and retirees that want to give back to the community that took care of them," said Nehls.

Pfitzinger is not allowed to reveal who of the volunteers ended up in the jury box, but he said the process worked as it's designed to.

Normally, jurors are selected at random from voter registration lists, motor vehicle lists and telephone or utility company directories. Both the sheriff and clerk of courts said they are planning on coming up with some emergency backup plan in case it happens again.


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