CHICAGO, June 13 (UPI) -- A Chicago federal judge found a juror in contempt for taking a business trip during an ongoing trial, saying the man did not have a good cause for his absence.
U.S. District Judge James Holderman's ruling against juror Scott Enke expressed frustration with what he perceived as an apathetic attitude toward jury duty after Enke attended a business meeting with a client March 8 instead of serving on the jury of a Medicare fraud trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.
Although Enke was excused from work for the first five days of the trial, he did not ask to be excused from court on March 8 to attend the meeting, nor did he inform anyone at the court of his scheduling conflict, the court ruling said.
Enke claims he attempted to contact the court, leaving messages, and his lawyer, Kevin Bolger, said his client is "extremely sorry for it. There were a lot of crossed signals. This is not some guy who disrespects the law."
Bolger added he has never seen a similar charge against a juror.
Holderman, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Chicago, has a reputation for demanding respect for the process of jury duty, including holding companies responsible when they pressure employees not to sit for jury duty, the newspaper noted.
Enke's sentencing, which can include three days in prison, a fine and community service, is scheduled for July 10, court records say.