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Juror Avoids Jail After Leaving Town In Middle Of Trial

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A medical supply salesman who left town in the middle of jury duty avoided going to jail when he was sentenced for contempt of court on Tuesday, but he must attend a legal symposium on the jury system as part of his punishment.

WBBM Newsradio's Nancy Harty reports U.S. District Judge James Holderman made Scott Enke, 33, of Plainfield, put his required speech to the American Bar Association symposium about jury service on his electronic calendar while Enke was in the courtroom on Tuesday.

While serving on a federal jury in March, Enke left U.S. District Judge Suzanne Conlon a voice mail message, asking to be excused from serving, so he could go on a business trip. He claimed the judge's clerk excused him, but the clerk denied doing so. He was later found in contempt for failing to appear for trial on March 8.

His attorney, Kevin P. Bolger, said Enke was relieved to have avoided a possible 3-day jail term.

"He was terrorized with the prospect of going to jail for three days," Bolger said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Nancy Harty reports


Instead, on top of speaking to the Bar Association, Enke must also pay a $1,000 fine and write an essay about showing up for jury duty.

"He's going to talk about the importance of the jury system in the United States of America," Bolger said.

Bolger said Enke has learned his lesson.

"Don't look at jury duty as an obligation, as what I can do to get out of it. Look at it as a privilege; an opportunity to serve," Bolger said. "Not only is it an important privilege, but when you go there, communicate. Tell the judges, tell the jury administrator what your schedule is, if you have a health problem, if you have a work problem, a school problem, a family problem."

He also said Enke's punishment is not a slap on the wrist.

"This has cost him a lot more than $1,000 and a fine. He's had to pay attorney's fees. He's got to do this. He's had to be embarrassed. I mean, this is an embarrassing thing for him to do," Bolger said.

The judge talked of somehow sharing that statement, and Enke's tale, with future jury pools, as a cautionary tale about skipping out on jury duty.

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