Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Remember that letter you got a few weeks ago from either the Missoula Municipal or District Court about jury duty? Don’t ignore it, because you could be held in contempt of court.

KGVO News spoke to Jeannette Smith, Public Information Officer with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office about one of the duties required for registered voters in Missoula.

'It's the Law' that Missoula Citizens must Respond to a Jury Summons

“It's the law,” began Smith. “It's noted in Montana Code Annotated. We have it cited on our Facebook page, but basically, it just says if a person fails to respond to a juror notice the clerk shall certify the failure to the sheriff who shall serve the notice personally on the person and make reasonable efforts to require the person to respond to the notice.”

Smith said the Sheriff’s Office is just doing its part in making sure the judicial system works for all citizens of Missoula County.

“One of the things we're doing from the sheriff's office to try to get the word out is to let folks know that this is the law and they need to do this,” she said. “We're making every effort just like the law says, so one of those is to post this to our Facebook page, send it to our local media, and ask for their help. So we appreciate your help in this and getting the word out.”

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Smith Acknowledged that there are Jury Duty Scammers Demanding Money

Smith acknowledged that there are ongoing phone scams by those claiming to be with the sheriff’s office and demanding cash.

“We are also making phone calls, and what I really want to stress in this is because we post weekly on our Facebook page, and there are a number of scams out there that will say you have not responded to your jury notice or there's a warrant out for your arrest,” she said. “The next thing they say is we demand money. So we will be making phone calls to let folks know that they have not responded and ask them to do so. The difference between us and the scams is we will absolutely not, and I just want to stress, we do not ask for or demand money from folks.”

Smith said part of that call will be to provide the correct information to those who have not yet responded to the letter.

The Call Should only Explain how to Fill Out the Jury Duty Form

“What we're going to do is provide information on where to go to fill out that jury questionnaire,” she said. There are two numbers, whether it's for District Court or Justice Court and we will give you one of those phone numbers, whichever one we're calling from the list from, to call them and get more information. Failure to respond to the questionnaire may result in the person being held in contempt of court.”

Missoula County Clerk of District Court Amy McGee told KGVO about what happens when those who have received the jury duty notification ignore the notice.

“Sometimes people will request to be excused, and that's on the back of the questionnaire, and we give those to the judge,” said McGee. “However, the people that don't respond at all and we actually certify that list to the sheriff's department, then they will start making phone calls and showing up at people's houses.”

McGee also recounted a true story that happened to a personal friend who was the victim of a jury summons scam.

“I actually had a personal friend of mine call me because they received a phone call just like that,” she said. “The person (scammer) claimed that my office, the Clerk of Court office, that we had a handwriting expert that could determine that they turned in their questionnaire and that they agreed to be at jury duty.”

For Missoula District Court, the phone number for details is 406-258-4780, while the number for Missoula Justice Court is 406-258-3470.

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