11 prematurely dismissed jurors in Parkland trial are supposed to come back to court Monday. Has anyone told them?

Nearly a dozen prematurely dismissed jurors are supposed to return to court Monday to be screened for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting trial. There’s just one problem — it appears no one has officially told them to show up.

According to an email exchange between the Broward Sheriff’s Office, prosecutors at the Broward State Attorney’s Office, and the assistant to the judge on the case, no one has given the 11 dismissed jurors an official notice to appear in court. Defense lawyers at the Broward Public Defender’s Office also received the emails.


The Broward Sheriff’s captain responsible for making sure the appearance notices were delivered had “not received the packet of jurors/addresses and the letter from the court,” wrote Christian Troubanos, assistant general counsel for the sheriff’s office.

Troubanos’ statement came in an email to Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus, who had written to the judge’s office late Friday morning asking whether the jurors had been served.


By the end of the day, neither the prosecution nor the defense were making statements about the issue. The South Florida Sun Sentinel obtained the information after the public affairs office at the Broward Sheriff’s Office had closed Friday. The attorney for the Clerk of Courts Office said late Friday that no new summons was issued to the 11 jurors.

The email exchange does not cast blame on anyone for the apparent oversight.

It’s not clear what would happen if the jurors do not appear Monday. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer originally dismissed the jurors on April 4 after they told her they “could not follow the law” when deciding the case against confessed gunman Nikolas Cruz.

Defense lawyers cried foul — the first phase of jury selection was supposed to focus purely on scheduling and whether potential jurors could serve without suffering a financial or personal hardship. Questions about their biases on the defendant and the death penalty are supposed to be raised in the second round of selection.

Lawyers on both sides routinely seek to “rehabilitate” jurors who say they cannot follow the law. Prosecutors try to get those who are biased against the defendant to express a willingness to give him a fair chance. Defense lawyers try to get firm death penalty opponents to commit to weighing the evidence and putting their personal beliefs aside.

But Scherer dismissed the jurors without giving either side a chance to handle those issues. The next day, she agreed to bring those jurors back on April 25.

Getting the jurors back into court raised another possible legal issue — Scherer told dismissed jurors they were free to discuss the case with anyone once they left the courthouse. If any of the 11 talked about their jury duty once they left, it could further compromise their ability to serve, according to legal experts.

The dismissal of the 11 had attorneys and the judge talking about the possibility of a mistrial just two days into jury selection. Technically, a mistrial wouldn’t be declared at least until after the end of jury selection, when the final jury that will hear the case is sworn in.


But semantics aside, Scherer could have scrapped the first two days of jury selection and started from the beginning on the third day.

If the 11 jurors do not get served with a notice to appear in time to guarantee their appearance Monday, Scherer will again have to negotiate with the defense on a strategy to proceed — hopefully salvaging more than 200 jurors who have passed through the first phase of selection.

Rafael Olmeda may be reached at rolmeda@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4457. Follow him on Twitter @rolmeda.