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Sacramento Man Says 'No' To Jury Summons In Light Of Pandemic

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - A Sacramento man is saying no to jury duty after being summoned to show up in a courtroom during the pandemic.

Steve Hirschauer, 65, said he's worried for his own health and said he shouldn't be forced to be in a position to break the law

At his age, he said he was told to stay home and avoid crowds.

"We just do all the right things and then we're asked to come and do this," Hirschauer said.

He received his summons last week.

"I just didn't feel it was right during this COVID-19," he said.

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Now he doesn't want to put himself at risk. As thousands of prisoners are walking free for early release because of COVID-19, Hirschauer said it's not fair the health of prisoners is being considered, but not his own.

"Early releases because of COVID, it just doesn't seem right," he said.

Like each of California's 58 trial courts, operations at courts in Sacramento abruptly stopped in March because of the coronavirus.

Thousands of cases were delayed, but now jury trials are back up and running and with major safety changes including temperature checks at the door, a mandatory mask policy, and social distancing inside.

But those changes are still not enough for Hirschauer

"I just don't quite feel safe," he said.

Hirschauer said he's not going to show up, which is normally against the law.

"It's not a good idea to just not show up," said John Myers, a law professor at the McGeorge School of Law.

READ: California Won't Say Why Violent Criminals Are Walking Free From Potential Life Sentences

Myers said you could technically get arrested, even now, although that's not likely.

"If you don't appear, you can get another summons and you can be hauled in front of a judge and the judge will give you a good lecture," Myers said.

Instead, the professor said if you don't want to enter a courthouse, ask the jury commissioner for a postponement.

Courts are allowing you to postpone because of the pandemic, but it varies by county.

In Sacramento, summoned jurors are allowed to put off service for up to 90 days.

"The jury trial will be the last piece of a return to normalcy," Myers said.

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