Judge penalizes no-show juror

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
A Lake County criminal court judge took a former juror to task Tuesday for skipping jury duty during a murder trial this spring.

Superior Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. found a 20-year-old Cedar Lake resident in contempt of court and sentenced him to three hours in the county jail, as well as ordering him to carry a 24-inch by 24-inch sign saying "I failed to appear for jury duty" from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Monday outside the Crown Point courthouse.

That will be a warning to any other prospective jurors who might consider not showing up for their civic duty, the judge said. Judge Stefaniak says this matter has been a problem in Lake County and he's aware of it being an issue statewide. More courts are cracking down with fines or penalties, such as in Marion County where judges last year began threatening and issuing fines, community service, and jail time for those who fail to appear when summoned.

In this case, Judge Stefaniak called former juror Michael Leibengood back for a contempt hearing to answer for his no-show conduct on the second day of a murder trial in May. He was replaced by an alternate. The judge told Leibengood he didn't believe his excuse of getting a flat tire on the way to court, and that the juror had lied on a questionnaire about not being charged or convicted of any misdemeanor or felony crimes.

Bailiffs took Leibengood into custody and he served the three-hour jail sentence before lunch, the judge said.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon