court

Tallapoosa County Circuit Clerk Patrick Craddock has seen a lot of interesting things with residents appearing in court after getting jury summons but Tuesday provided a first.

“That is the first time I have heard the jury pool sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone else in the pool,” Craddock said.

Craddock and staff are used to hearing excuses to get of jury service and said some juries make strange requests during the course of a trial.

“This one jury was on the same civil trial for two weeks,” he said. “One of the members was having a birthday. I got a call they wanted birthday cake. So I went and bought a cake for them.”

Tuesday’s jury pool saw a husband and wife. Craddock said the husband-wife team in Tuesday’s pool is not a first especially since going to the new system of using a lottery from the voter registration files to send jury summons.

“I have seen two husband-wife teams in the same pool,” Craddock said. 

Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge Steve Perryman and Craddock were proud of the jury pool that responded to the first day of the criminal jury trial term in Dadeville on Tuesday.

“Without you, it doesn’t work,” Perryman said to the jury pool. “We have to have jurors.”

Craddock and his staff checked in 100 potential jurors.

“We have had a great turnout,” Craddock told everyone in the courtroom. “We (had) a lot of people here (Tuesday) morning. I would rather have too many than not enough.”

Three were excused for not living in Tallapoosa County on the east side of the Tallapoosa River. It is something Perryman said everyone is required to live in the district of the courthouse.

“The Fifth Judicial Circuit covers four counties and five courthouses,” Perryman said. “We have to make sure of this.”

Over the course of two hours Perryman and Craddock asked basic questions of the jury pool to determine if those called could serve so attorneys for both the state and defense had a general idea who was called to serve on juries. Perryman excused 20 for medical and other reasons he determined were worthy, leaving 77.

Fifty said they had children; 24 identified as being unemployed or retired; 48 identified as being married, including the husband and wife who were sitting next to each other.

“Well you’re next,” Craddock said to the husband looking him directly in the eye with a smile.

The response got a laugh from everyone in the courtroom.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.