A number of residents appeared at the Johnston County Courthouse last week to pay large fines to stay out of jail for missing jury duty. Sheriff Steve Bizzell says deputies are investigating a telephone scam that informs people they have missed jury duty and must immediately travel to the courthouse to meet a deputy with cash to pay fines to keep from going to jail. “The callers are using the names of some of my current deputies and are playing on our citizens’ fears about jury duty. They are very aggressive in trying to get money from their victims,” Sheriff Bizzell said.
Clerk of Superior Court Michelle Ball said one victim arrived at her office with cash in hand to pay the fine. “These individuals are preying on our counties’ older adults who are scared they have done something wrong,” Ball said. Real jury service notices are sent out by the sheriff’s office from the clerk’s office. Those notices give sufficient time to contact the clerk’s office to request to be excused, or to give an opportunity to be present for jury duty, Ball added.
Chief District Court Judge Jacquelyn “Jackie” Lee Judge Lee said, “In the event you fail to appear for jury service, we will send another letter and a deputy may contact you to appear and answer questions of the Court regarding your absence, but initially, no fines are levied.”
“We have a good system in place that hopefully keeps our residents from having any issues with jury duty,” Judge Lee said.
If you are contacted by telephone demanding money in exchange for a missed jury duty summons it is a scam. If you receive a phone call to pay money to stay out of jail for supposedly missing jury duty, you should contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010.
If you have questions about whether you have actually been summoned to serve as a juror contact the Johnston County Clerk of Court’s Office at 919-209-5400.