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Jury Slacker Ordered To Carry Sign: 'I Failed To Appear For Jury Duty'

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) -- A prospective juror in a fatal drunken driving crash case who left during jury selection has been ordered to stand in front of the Lake County Courthouse the next two Mondays with a sign that says, "I failed to appear for jury duty."

Court officials did not release the man's name, but the 22-year-old told Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. he wasn't thinking when he left after lunch during jury selection Dec. 5 for the trial of Jeffery Cleary of Valparaiso, the Post-Tribune reports.

"I've never been in trouble before," said the man, who acknowledged he didn't follow the judge's instructions during the jury selection process.

"Help me understand what it is about my words, 'You've got to come back,' that you don't understand?" Stefaniak said. "I'm at a loss to understand why you did what you did."

"I wasn't really paying attention," said the man, who is unemployed.

Stefaniak said the man was "the very person who should be on a jury. You've got nothing else to do."

Stefaniak ordered the man's name be put back into the juror pool, and told him to show up in court at 7:30 a.m. Monday and Feb. 6 with the sign and walk in front of the courthouse until the bailiffs release him.

Cleary was convicted Dec. 14 on lesser drunken driving charges but jurors deadlocked on the higher level felony counts in the 2010 death of Philip Amsden, 63. Prosecutors said he had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.15 percent when he crashed into a truck, crushing Amsden, who was repairing a flat tire near the Ridge Road ramp to Interstate 65 in Hobart in 2010.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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