Town police stand behind tickets given to jurors
An invasion of 90 jurors’ vehicles fought for the scarce parking facilities around the Morgan County Courthouse on Monday morning, February 13.
Some 95 prospective jurors had been called in for the jury selection process for an upcoming civil case in Morgan County Circuit Court.
Of those 95 potential jurors, 90 showed up for the 8:45 a.m. court session.
Michael Giles said he arrived in the vicinity of the courthouse ten minutes early and noticed the gravel lot behind BB&T Bank was already filled and many cars were circling the block looking for a place to park.
“I found a meter and put in my two quarters for the maximum two hours time,” Giles said.
The jury selection lasted five hours. During that time, some of those parked at meters near the courthouse were ticketed by the Bath Police Department.
Giles said jurors were given two 10-minute breaks, one at 11 a.m. and the other around 12:30 p.m. His ticket was written at noon.
Many people had to use the breaks to visit the restrooms, which Giles said were crowded with folks standing in lines. Some people did go out to smoke and pump quarters into the meters.
Bath Town Police reported ticketing 13 vehicles that day.
“I thought about the car and parking, but I heard some ladies say the court would take care of any tickets,” Giles said.
Police stand behind tickets
Police Chief Craig Pearrell said no one from Circuit Court alerted town police about any parking problems that the large jury pool might create.
“I can remember a time when the county used to coordinate with police when a lot of jurors were expected in town,” Pearrell said.
Parking Enforcement Offi-cer Gene Kilduff said the 13 tickets given out were a normal number for a Monday, so officers saw no apparent problems.
Pearrell said court bailiffs tried to dismiss some tickets by signing them and writing the word “void” across the top, but they had no authority to do so.
“It’s the principal”
Giles said he called
Bath police who replied, “You have to feed the meters.”
He was told he could dispute the ticket in court but would probably lose.
“It’s not the $8. It’s the principal of honest folks trying to serve the community and being penalized,” Giles said.
The jury pool was finally released at 1:45 p.m. after the judge apologized for keeping them so long. The judge also said having jury selection in one day instead of two was saving the county money, Giles said.
Efforts to reach Circuit Court officers were unsuccessful at press time.