After about 20 people who were summoned for jury duty didn't show Dec. 17, Circuit Judge David Fina called on the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office for help.

Sheriff's officials called prospective jurors and told them to see the judge, though Sheriff Tony Cameron said in the past deputies have escorted people to the courthouse.

Fina said the most common excuse he got is, "I forgot."

Jurors were given a warning and let go.

Though the court can levy fines and issue jail time, Fina said he can't recall that being done in Suwannee County.

"We've started to notice a gradual increase" in the number of those not reporting, said Jean Fieler, jury clerk.

Fieler said for every 100 jurors scheduled, only about 60-75 show up. She schedules more than needed to anticipate no-shows.

"It's certainly much more rewarding than people realize," she said, noting that many jurors find the experience interesting.

Usually jurors just serve a day or two.

Those not paid by their employers to serve, are compensated $15 per day.

Those seeking exemption from jury duty may call the judge ahead of time. The summons received by mail details accepted excuses and a number to call.

"It's not only a privilege to serve on a jury, but a duty," Fina said.

Court officials want the public to know they are paying attention and no-shows will not be tolerated.

Fina said this is the first time he has called on the sheriff's office for help with no-shows and the first time in at least two and a half years it's been done at all here. But, he warned, it'll be happening more often from now on.

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