Jackson County

Jury summons mix-up tells voters to call sex hotline

PASCAGOULA -- At least 350 jury summons sent out in Jackson County instructed potential jurors to call a sex hotline, instead of the courts, to find out if they needed to show up for a jury selection Monday.

Circuit Clerk Randy Carney said he first learned of the mix-up after Circuit Judge Robert Krebs called him Sunday night to let him know the wrong numbers had been placed on the summons.

The Circuit Clerk's office has a contract with a company to send out the summons, and they draft the telephone numbers. Carney said he plans to get to the bottom of what happened.

If anyone called the sex hotline, which Carney said he did not, it gave callers the option of selecting 1 or 2 to specify whether they were a man or woman. If anyone proceeded with the call, Carney said, "I'm assuming there may be a charge."

Carney believes most residents realized it was a mistake and hung up.

"I would hope you realize there is an error in that number," he said.

Most calls for sex over the phone charge customers money.

Potential jurors started calling the Circuit Clerk's office Monday morning to report the problem.

Others came to the office to find out what was going on.

Most of those who stopped by, Carney said, were understanding.

Carney met with Circuit Judge Dale Harkey about the matter Monday morning, then drafted an apology letter to go out to all who received the erroneous summons.

In the letter, Carney asks potential jurors to "please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Carney did not want to identify the company that prepared the summons, but said it had been preparing them for years prior to his taking office in January.

At this point, Carney said, he doesn't know if his office will be liable for costs associated with any potential jurors billed for using the sex hotline.

"I don't know what I or what this office would be responsible for if there were a charge for them calling that number," he said.

To avoid a future mix-up, Carney said he will be personally reviewing summons before they are mailed out.