PARK CITY — A judge is ordering 36 people in Summit County to appear in court and explain why they didn't show up for jury duty, prompting a mistrial in a child rape case.
Each of the no-show jurors is being issued a summons and an order to show cause according to 3rd District Court policy. If they don't respond to Judge Edwin Peterson's summons, a warrant will be issued for their arrest, Utah Courts spokesman Geoff Fattah confirmed Monday.
"The judge will likely ask them to give him a reason why they didn't respond to jury duty," Fattah said. "The judge then has the option to throw them back into the jury pool to serve out the remainder of their time window for jury service, or find them in contempt of court."
Sanctions for contempt of court include a fine, jail time or a class C misdemeanor charge.
Fattah emphasized that having such a high number of jurors skip out is extremely rare.
Utah's 3rd District Court — which includes Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties — puts about 6,000 people on notice for jury duty each month. Only six to eight of those usually result in orders to show cause for potential jurors failing to appear, he said.
The large number of no-shows also doesn't appear to be the result of any clerical snafus, Fattah confirmed. The 36 Summit County residents had all called in to the courts after receiving mailers putting them on notice that they could be called to jury duty sometime during the month, he said.
The 36 were among 120 potential jurors called for a 10-day jury trial involving three Vernal men accused of gang-raping a 9-year-old girl on Easter Sunday last year.
Larson Rondeau, 36, Jerry Flatlip, 29, and Randall Flatlip, 26, are each charged with rape of a child and sodomy on a child, first-degree felonies. They are accused of taking turns raping a 9-year-old girl while her mother did drugs in another room.
In April, an 8th District Court judge in Vernal agreed to move the trial to Summit County after the men's attorneys argued that the extensive and impassioned public outcry by Uintah County residents against the three men in the case, combined with the area's small population, would make it impossible to seat an impartial jury.
But when attorneys couldn't seat an eight-person jury with two alternates, a mistrial was declared.
Following the mistrial, Peterson ordered that the case be moved again. It was reassigned Monday to Salt Lake City. New hearings have not yet been scheduled in the case.