A judge in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin ran out of potential candidates for jury duty, so he sent the sheriff to randomly pick up people off the street and force them into jury duty. And under Wisconsin law, it’s perfectly legal.
According to WBBH (Fort Myers), Eau Claire County Circuit Court Judge Michael Schumacher was presiding over a case – the specifics of what kind of case have not been made clear, as of this post – when the jury pool ran dry. He then had his clerk, Susan Schaffer, contact Sheriff Ron Cramer, to randomly pull people off the streets and impress them into jury duty.
Raw Story explains that sheriff’s deputies approached adults who appeared to be over 18 randomly on the streets, and asked them if they had any prior felony convictions. They were then told to write down some information, and drive themselves to the courthouse. Those who failed would be met with a deputy at their door to forcibly bring them to the courthouse.
Schaffer explains that forced jury roundups are rare, but necessary.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often. It just so happened that today was a day that we just needed more. The court can order the Sheriff to get people right off the street.”
Although being randomly forced into jury duty sounds horrifying, it’s perfectly legal in Wisconsin. Under Wisconsin’s “Insufficient Jurors” statute – which is rarely invoked – judges have the right to dispatch the police to randomly impress people into jury duty.
Sheriff Ron Cramer seemed somewhat apologetic for having to ruin several people’s day, in remarks made to WEAU (Eau Claire).
“I gave a couple of them rides home, and they thought that it was a very interesting process they’ve never heard of the before, but the judge did explain why they were taken off of the street so they could move on with the trial.”
It’s unclear, as of this post, how many people were forced into on-the-spot jury duty, or if any refused and were put in jail.
Despite forcing random people off the street into jury duty, Judge Schumacher was still unable to come up with an acceptable jury, and he made the decision to delay the trial.
Do you think it’s acceptable for police to forcibly impress random people into jury duty when a trial runs out of potential jurors? Sound off in the Comments below.