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Clark County Circuit Court Judge and Clerk of Court Express Thanks to County Citizens
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 -- 8:18 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

-The Clark County Circuit Court, Judge Jon Counsell and Clerk of Court Heather Bravener wish to express their thanks to all Clark County citizens that have served as jurors and participated in the jury selection process.

Trial by jury is a right that is protected in both the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions. It is also a duty of those citizens who live in Wisconsin to help the courts protect this important feature of our justice system. Juries serve several important purposes: 1) they decide the facts in a case as presented by evidence and testimony at criminal and civil trials; 2) they provide a means by which community values and sentiments are reflected in the court process; and 3) they foster the public’s acceptance of legal decisions. Jury duty, along with voting, is one of the primary means by which citizens participate in the work of the government.

Judge Counsell indicated that “local citizens that have answered the call and completed their jury duty should be recognized for the time and effort they have made to appear and participate in our justice system.” “Jurors,” Judge Counsell added, “are the foundation of our judicial system as it is only through jurors’ willingness to serve that disputes can be decided.” Judge Counsell and Clerk Bravener both emphasized their appreciation for the cooperation with jury duty that Clark County citizens have shown. “We want every juror to feel appreciated and to know how much we value their time and commitment to our system of justice,” Judge Counsell said.

Judge Counsell and Clerk Bravener also expressed their thanks to employers for their cooperation. Most employers understand that they are required by Wisconsin law to grant employees a leave of absence for jury service, and readily do so. If an employer or the prospective juror has concerns over a juror appearing on a particular day, Clerk Bravener stated that “We do understand that many businesses or individuals have busy seasons and thus we can allow jurors to postpone their service to another month.” She emphasized, however, that prospective jurors should contact her “as soon as they know of a potential conflict as last minute requests, absent an emergency, are rarely granted.”

Juror selection is a two step process. First, there is a questionnaire about basic juror qualifications that must be returned to the Clerk’s office within ten days. Second, qualified jurors are sent a notice to appear for service at a trial or group of trials. When asked what happens if jurors do not return the questionnaire or fail to appear for jury duty, Clerk Bravener explained that there are sanctions under Wisconsin law. First, the jurors can be summoned to a hearing in court before a judge to explain why they did not appear. If the juror still does not come to court, the judge can issue a warrant for the juror’s arrest. If the juror comes to court but has no valid reason for not serving as a juror, Wisconsin law provides that he or she can be required to forfeit up to $500.00 for each day of jury service missed.

Both Judge Counsell and Clerk Bravener emphasized the cooperativeness of most jurors. They added, however, that there were a number of jurors this past year that have paid significant forfeitures because they refused to appear and serve their jury duty. Judge Counsell stated that “We greatly appreciate every juror that fulfills his or her obligation. But to be fair to those that have given up their time to answer questionnaires or serve as jurors, others who disobey the rules should face the consequences imposed by law.”

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