Jury duty is certainly an obligation to be taken very seriously. Today, we occasionally hear of mistrials due to a juror doing something improper.
While searching Washington County, Kentucky records, I was reading through 1806 court minutes when I came across two consecutive pages with entries like this one:
“Behaved in a disorderly and improper manner”
Thomas Slayton, James Riney and Thomas Dean having behaved in a disorderly and improper manner on the Jury Ewing vs. Beem, in which they were Sworn. It is ordered that they be fined the Sum of $20 each, and that they pay the costs and may be taken.
Below this entry, Benjamin Harrison, serving on the same jury, was fined $10 and costs, while Thomas Robb, John Calhoun and Francis Berry, also on the Ewing vs. Beem jury, were fined $5 each.
As a point of reference $20 in 1806 money is worth about $377 in today’s dollars. That is a hefty fine!
If the wording in this entry only said “improper,” I would think that perhaps there was collusion of some sort. However, “disorderly” is written before “improper” and only seven jurors were fined.
Was there a verbal confrontation? Unless there was profanity used, I tend to think that perhaps an actual fistfight broke out. I didn’t have time to research what the Ewing vs. Beem lawsuit involved and I saw no mention of exactly what the behavior was that prompted these entries.
What do you think happened and have you ever come across a court minute entry like this one???