Circuit Court term to open Monday

Some 248 criminal suspects are scheduled for trial, hearings or docket call during the winter term of Oktibbeha County Circuit Court that begins Monday.
The court term will run the next two weeks. Circuit Judges Lee Howard and Jim Kitchens are both scheduled to be on the bench during the term.
Cases involving narcotics or felony alcohol offenses comprise more than 42 percent of the total case docket, with 105 cases scheduled for the court term.
Cases involving property crimes also comprise a nearly 32 percent of the court docket, with 79 total cases scheduled. Violent crimes and sex crimes make up more than 20 percent of the total docket, with 50 scheduled cases.
Citizens interested in court proceedings should note that just because certain cases are scheduled for hearing or trial on certain days, other court activities and proceedings may necessitate cases being bumped from the daily docket until later in the court term or to a future court term in the fall or winter.
Likely to dominate much of the court action will be arraignment of criminal suspects who have been indicted by the Oktibbeha County Grand Jury, which convened from July 5 to 13.
Nearly 180 Grand Jury indictments had been handed down as of last week, but numerous more were expected, Circuit Court officials said. Under state law, indictments are secret until the suspect is served with the indictment and arraigned in open court.

A reminder for those called for jury duty

Oktibbeha County Circuit Court officials want to remind registered voters who are summoned for jury duty this week to be present at the Courthouse Annex Monday morning.
The reminder comes after problems in previous court terms with residents summoned for jury duty failing to appear in Circuit Court.
The only excuses for being relieved of jury duty are medical reasons, being over age 65 or having personal hardship. A personal hardship that would excuse a person from jury duty means a person owns his or her own business and would have to close in order to serve, not being off from work.
One common problem court officials have encountered in the past is that many residents do not open the jury summons sent to them by mail, said Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis. “We have to be able to seat jury panels as necessary for Circuit Court proceedings,” McGinnis said.
Any residents who do not report at the designated time Monday for jury duty forfeit any pay they would have received for the day, McGinnis said.
“People summoned for jury duty need to now that if they do not show up, they can be held by the judge in contempt of court and be subject to being fined or imprisoned at the judge’s discretion,” McGinnis said.
Anyone with questions about a jury summons or jury duty requirements can call the Circuit Clerk’s Office at 323-1356. Because of construction of the new Oktibbeha County School District administrative building adjacent to the Courthouse Annex, portions of the parking lot have been shut off from public access.
Those reporting for jury duty are asked to park at nearby Griffin United Methodist Church on West Main Street through an arrangement court officials have made with church leaders. The church is located less than a block from the Courthouse Annex.
Those not visiting the Courthouse Annex for official business are also asked to park elsewhere in the downtown area to avoid creating congestion, McGinnis said.