Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 15, 2014

Woman upset by arrest for missing jury duty

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — A 64-year-old woman was drinking coffee in her pajamas when deputies arrived earlier this year. She eventually was handcuffed, placed in a patrol car and photographed at a jail.

Lydia Bell’s offense? Missing jury duty in Traverse City — two years ago.

Bell was shocked by the arrest. She wasn’t living in Michigan when a jury summons was sent by mail. She explained it to Grand Traverse County Judge Philip Rodgers on April 7, but he still ordered her to pay $50.

Weeks later, the experience still stings.

“I was humiliated big time,” Bell told The Associated Press.

Bell and her husband had lived on a busy road in the Traverse City area and relied on a post office box, not their rickety roadside mailbox. She figures the jury notice was placed in the mailbox in 2012, months after they had moved to Oregon.

County Clerk Bonnie Scheele declined to comment on Bell’s case Tuesday but said members of a jury pool must notify the court if they move. Bell apparently had filled out a questionnaire months earlier that qualified her for jury service.

Bell moved back to Michigan, settling in DeWitt, near Lansing. Clinton County deputies visited in late March or early April and said there was a warrant for her arrest in Grand Traverse County, 175 miles away.

Bell posted $500 bail and reported to the northern Michigan court. She got her bail money back but still had to pay a $50 fine, plus lodging, food and gas for the trip to Traverse City.

“What am I supposed to learn from this?” Bell said.

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