A telephone call in the form of a recorded message from the National Justice Center warning that a missed court date as a juror will cost them $500 or 30 days in jail is a prank.
However, local residents who received the calls aren’t laughing.
Boyle Circuit Clerk Joni Terry said her office received its first call about the recorded message two weeks ago and got two additional calls from concerned residents last week.
“They called here freaking out,” Terry said this morning. “They didn’t know it was a prank. Apparently, they didn’t listen to it all the way through.”
Terry said none of the three Boyle callers were on any jury lists. “I told them not to worry about it,” she said.
In Casey County, Deputy Circuit Clerk Cameron Cain said several people received the prank messages and then contacted the clerk’s office, concerned about facing a large fine or jail time. Others just want to know if it’s true.
Todd Carman received one of the messages and went to the clerk’s office on Monday to inquire as to its validity.
“I really didn’t think there was anything to it, but I wanted to check,” he said.
The one-minute phone message from the center — which doesn’t exist — states that callers missed a court date as a juror and face a fine or jail time.
“If you are hearing this message, it means that our records indicate that you failed to appear for jury duty last Monday morning at 9 a.m. Multiple notifications of your jury summons were sent to you both by theU.S. Postal Serviceand electronically to the email address we have on file for you.”
The call says that ignoring the jury summons is a Class 3 misdemeanor. In Kentucky, misdemeanors are either Class A, B or C. Callers are then asked to pick one of three options — pay the $500 fine, go to jail for 30 days, or choose the third option, which states that the call is a joke.
“You may choose to pay it forward and simply pass this phone number on to your top 10 most gullible friends and attempt to trick them into thinking that this is actually a real ‘failure to appear’ for jury duty notification, in much the same way that whoever gave you this number to call has apparently just tricked you.”
But the joke may end up being on the caller should someone complain to authorities.
Casey County Attorney Tom Weddle said that calls such as these can be prosecuted.
“Under KRS. 525.080, this could be classified as harassing communications,” Weddle said.
The law states that it’s categorized as a Class B misdemeanor where a person intends to “intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm another person anonymously or otherwise by telephone in a manner which causes annoyance or alarm and serves no purpose of legitimate communication.”
Weddle said the charge carries a $250 fine or 90 days in jail or both.
In Clark County, Circuit Clerk Paula Joslin said her office received two calls Friday from people who received electronic messages about not showing up for court. The two people were not scheduled for jury duty, she said.
One of the people who called Friday dug a little deeper and found a phone number attached to the message to call, Joslin said, but it only went to a recorded message.
Joslin said the clerks don’t post any juror information online, where some people said they saw their names.
Typically, a judge will issue a summons if a juror doesn’t show up for the initial juror orientation, Joslin said.
Those instances are rare, she said.
The state recently implemented a computerized jury management system that makes it easier to determine whether someone is scheduled for jury duty, she said.
Anyone who receives a similar message about jury duty should contact the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, Joslin said.
Information for this story was provided by Todd Kleffman of The Advocate-Messenger, Larry Rowell of The Casey County News and Fred Petke of The Winchester Sun.