With apologies to Syracuse, very few people look good in orange.

Hence, the cautionary tale provided by Byron Watson, who found himself clothed head to toe in the unflattering shade while spending 24 hours in jail because he didn’t show up for jury duty.

“I just spaced it,” the 21-year-old Watson told Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech on Monday, as to why he ignored a jury duty summons back in June.

Poor choice of words. Very poor.

“You spaced it on June 9?” said Orzech, paging through Watson’s file. “And again on July 20? Then you spaced it again on July 26? Then you spaced it again on Aug. 23?”


But Orzech wasn’t done.

“And a sheriff’s officer was sent out on July 6 and you spaced it then, too?”

“I don’t have a good excuse.”

“Hmm,” mused Orzech. “We spent a lot of time and resources trying to get you here.”

The standard fine for skipping jury duty is $50, she explained. That’s what she usually imposes on people when they show up later and apologize, she said. “But you decided to escalate this into criminal contempt,” she reminded Watson.

That carries a considerably higher penalty, up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

“Sorry,” Watson belatedly offered.

He pleaded guilty both to the contempt charge and a charge of failure to attend to jury duty, both misdemeanors.

Orzech sentenced him to a $50 fine, and six months in the Missoula County jail, all of it suspended, with credit for the single day he served. But, she reminded Watson at about 3 p.m. Monday, he was booked into the jail at 6:15 the previous evening.

So he still had three more hours to serve.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or @CopsAndCourts on Twitter.

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