Denver District Court Judge Anne Mansfield was presiding over jury selection on June 28, when one potential juror was questioned as to jury duty, and responded in disjointed speech, "I broke out of domestic violence in the military. And I have a lot of repercussions. One is post-traumatic stress disorder."
This was Juror No. 4361 – a woman with curlers hanging from her messy hair, mismatched shoes and socks and heavy makeup smeared across her face. The judge appropriately excused the woman from jury duty.
Months later, Judge Mansfield was listening to a local radio program when she heard the woman bragging about her misrepresentation to the court in her successful bid to avoid jury duty. Now Juror No. 4361 — published author and Denver cosmetologist Susan Cole — faces felony charges after allegedly bragging months later on a radio program that she fabricated the elaborate ruse to duck jury duty.
The Denver District Attorney's Office today charged Cole, 57, with perjury and attempting to influence a public servant, both Class 4 felonies. An affidavit for Cole's arrest details how she allegedly weaved her fiction and how it quickly unraveled. "It moves from just being a serious civic responsibility to a potential criminal matter because potential jurors have taken an oath to answer questions from the judge and attorneys truthfully," said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office.
We appreciate the time and effort jury duty requires. Trial lawyers understand that jury duty is never convenient. But jury service is one of the most important civic duties you can perform. The protection of rights and liberties in our courts largely is achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury.. Jury duty is important because it ensures the proper functioning of the judicial system which plays a vital role in maintaining a free and orderly society. If disputes between people in civil matters could not be resolved in the courts they would be resolved in violence. If there were no juries, persons accused of crimes would not have an effective right to a jury trial as stated in the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Before you consider trying to avoid jury duty, think about the critical role you would play – and then find a friend who has served on a jury. Chances are very good that you will hear the experience described as rewarding and enlightening.