W.Va. jury notice for dead man prompts reform call

PRINCETON (AP) — The widow of the late Delegate Thomas Michael Porter says she has received notices for him to appear for jury duty twice since he died in 2010.

Ruth Porter of Princeton is calling for changes in the way jury pools are selected.

“I received something in the mail telling me he had to appear for jury duty,” Porter told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “I don’t want to see this keep coming in my mail. This is the second time I have received this notice and he has been dead for two years next month. I have told them not to send me any more because it hurts to see that paperwork.”

“It is high time they do something about this. They need to get new technology at this courthouse. If they cannot go into the computer and take a name off because the person is deceased then there is something wrong. They need to remove his name. I’m still not over his loss, and seeing things like that brings up memories. I can’t take it anymore.”

A jury duty notice sent to a deceased person is not unusual but Mercer County officials are not responsible for the names, which are provided by the state Supreme Court, said Circuit Court Chief Judge Omar Aboulhosn.

The court uses the names of licensed drivers and registered voters for county jury pools. These names are taken from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s Office, court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy said.

Counties receive new jury pools every two years but the schedule varies from county to county.

A deceased person’s name will appear on the DMV and voter’s registration rolls unless the family notifies the agencies of the death. The Department of Health and Human Resources keeps death certificates private and does not share them with the other agencies, Bundy said.

“We are sorry this has happened, and unfortunately this has happened before,” Bundy said. “There is nothing the county clerk can do about this situation. A family that gets a notice for someone who is deceased can ignore it. If a person is summoned for jury duty and doesn’t show up because they are deceased they are not liable for anything.”

Porter said the system should be changed to spare families who have lost a lost one from having to see the notices.

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