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Woman Jailed for Lying to Leave Jury Duty

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This should be a lessen for anyone looking to escape Jury Duty.

CINCINNATI (AP) - A juror has ended up behind bars. Rachelle Thomas told a judge in Cincinnati last year that she couldn't serve on a jury because she had to take her son to a doctor's appointment. But she had already filled out a juror's questionnaire and wrote she had no children.

Thomas was sentenced to nine days in jail for contempt, but moved to Nevada. This week she returned to Cincinnati to clear up the matter. She pleaded no contest to the contempt charge. Thomas was ordered to complete her jail sentence, pernorm 200 hours of community service and pay a $250 fine.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Helmick sentenced Thomas, 31, on Monday.

When Thomas told Helmick in May 2003 that she couldn't serve, he excused her rather than taint other potential jurors. Later, he issued a contempt-of-court warrant for her arrest and sentenced her to nine days in jail, a period equal to the rest of her jury obligation.

Thomas was released on bond after serving three days. The 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals overturned her sentence in February, saying the judge violated her civil rights when he jailed her without a hearing.

A contempt hearing was scheduled for October, but when Thomas failed to appear, Helmick ordered her arrest.

Thomas, who now lives in Nevada, returned Monday to enter her no contest plea and receive her sentence.

Thomas, who said she was under pressure at work when she lied to the judge, apologized in a letter to Helmick.

"Due to a series of highly stressful events going on in my life during my (jury) service, I made a perilous error in judgment," she wrote.

Helmick chastised Thomas for her actions.

"There are minimal duties imposed on citizens, and one is being a juror," Helmick said. "I understand you had a research project. If you would have said that, I would have taken it into consideration. We trust jurors to be honest."

Entry #114

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