Jury Duty? Take This Summons and …

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A Belgrade couple decided they couldn’t afford the lost income if the husband reported for jury duty, so they cooked up an expletive-filled affidavit telling the court in no uncertain terms that the husband didn’t want to serve.

That was back in January.

Now, the vulgarity-laced affidavit has turned up on the Internet on a Web site called The Smoking Gun, owned by the cable and satellite network Court TV.

“Apparently you morons didn’t understand me the first time. I CANNOT take time off from work. I’m not putting my family’s well-being at stake to participate in this crap,” begins the notarized affidavit submitted to the Gallatin County District Court last January by Erik A. Slye.

Slye goes on to say that he doesn’t believe in America’s “justice” system (the quotation marks are his) and that jury duty is “a complete waste of time.”

Most of Slye’s other comments use language not suitable to be quoted here.

Slye was traveling on business Friday and couldn’t be reached for comment; but his wife, Jennifer, told The Associated Press that she — not her husband — actually wrote the affidavit.

“I wrote it and he sent it in. We figured it was either crazy enough to work or he was going to end up in jail,” Jennifer Slye said in a telephone interview. “I guess it could have been said a little nicer but it wouldn’t have had the same impact.”

The Slyes, both in their mid-30s, have three children ages 8, 7 and 3; and they recently bought a house “by the skin of our teeth and a wing and a prayer.”

“We can’t lose the income” from Erik’s job as an automobile painter, said Jennifer Slye, who works part-time at night clerking in a supermarket.

When Erik got the summons for jury duty, he asked to be excused on the basis of lost income, but got a second notice a month later.

“We had to up the ante,” Jennifer said. “Some people think we’re like militia people or something … but I just said, ‘We can’t afford it. That didn’t work. Maybe this will.'”

Erik Slye did end up being excused from jury duty in that instance and has since been twice more excused — once because he again pleaded financial hardship and the second time because the trip he was taking Friday clashed with the court schedule.

District Judge John Brown, in whose Bozeman court Erik Slye was summoned to serve, said Friday that a foul-mouthed affidavit is not a good model to follow to avoid jury duty.

Brown said he summoned Erik Slye into court two weeks ago to discuss the affidavit.

“We understand that it’s a hardship for people to come down here and serve, but everybody, all citizens, have a legal obligation,” the judge told Slye, according to a transcript provided by the court.

“Maybe you’ll be excused, but the point is that you should ask like an adult and not like you’re 13 years old,” the judge told Slye.

At Judge Brown’s direction, Slye apologized to several clerks who were in the courtroom at the time.

“If you were to send an excuse like this in again in the future you could be held in contempt of court and I can throw you over there in the jail and have you sit and think about it,” the judge said.

“I don’t particularly want to do that, but I can’t tolerate this kind of stuff,” said Brown.

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