Potential Juror’s Texted Bomb Scare Clears Houston Courthouse

Despite the importance of jury service – both for the involved parties and our overall justice system – it seems that some of those called for jury duty will never learn the rules, no matter how explicitly judges instruct them in hopes of avoiding costly mistrials and other courthouse calamities. This week, we’re highlighting the story of a Houston woman who managed to clear more than 200 potential jurors from the Harris County courthouse with one simple text message.

Cynthia Creed, 51, had just been released from jury duty on June 12 when she sent a message to a co-worker that read “Call the courthouse (1201 Congress) Tell them there is a bomb . . . Pleeese.” Yes, you read that correctly. A 51-year-old woman who already had performed her civic duty by showing up and being excused for jury service somehow decided to send a joke about a courthouse bomb to her co-worker using a text message. The co-worker responded by calling the authorities, who understandably descended on the downtown courts building with bomb-sniffing dogs and a team of concerned deputy constables. As the search for a nonexistent bomb was taking place a couple blocks away, Creed sent a follow-up message to her co-worker that read “Just kidding.”

Her misguided attempt to be funny landed Creed in the Harris County lockup facing charges of filing a false report and $5,000 in bail. No word yet on the costs involved for the local courts after having to prematurely dismiss more than 200 jurors, or for the many parties whose cases were not heard because of the misplaced joke.

As ridiculous as it seems, we’re now wondering whether potential Harris County jurors will be instructed in the future not to send fake bomb threats related to their jury service. Good grief.

 

Posted: 6/27/2012 2:45:56 PM by On the Merits Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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