Thursday, June 5, 2003

Lying juror sent to jail



By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Rachelle Thomas was so opposed to serving on a jury, she said she'd rather go to jail. Still, she was stunned Wednesday when a Hamilton County judge sent her there for nine days - the remainder of her jury duty - after he caught her in a lie.

Thomas, 30, of Forest Park, is being held for contempt of court for trying to avoid serving on a civil jury.

"You blatantly violated the trust everybody placed in you," Common Pleas Judge Dennis Helmick told her. "There is a penalty to pay for that blatant violation of trust."

Jurors are chosen from voting registration records. When called, a juror must serve three weeks and can be chosen to serve on both civil and criminal cases.

Thomas told the judge she couldn't serve because she had to take her son to the doctor. Problem was, on her jury questionnaire, she said she was not married and had no children.

When the judge questioned Thomas about her story Wednesday, she admitted she "possibly" made it up. "I just feel really uncomfortable with the court system,'' she told the judge. "It's just a big burden for me to make these kinds of decisions that are life-altering."

After the hearing, Thomas had one question: Would she have to serve the jail sentence over the weekend? After all, she reasoned, jurors have the weekend off.

The answer: yes.

E-mail sturco@enquirer.com




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