Oakland judge warned after jailing prospective juror

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A judge ordered a stay-at-home mom to sit through a murder trial and serve 24 hours in jail after she arrived an hour late for jury selection because she couldn’t find a baby sitter.

State officials intervened, and Carmela Khury was released at noon Monday after a day and a half as a spectator in Oakland County Circuit Judge Leo Bowman’s courtroom. He was told to drop the order or face sanctions.

“It was very upsetting,” Khury, 37, told The Detroit Free Press.

Bowman declined to comment through his staff in suburban Detroit.
Khury appeared in court an hour late last Thursday accompanied by her two children, an 8-month-old and a 3-year-old. She said her husband was working, her mother was having oral surgery, and she hadn’t been able to find an alternative sitter.

Bowman dismissed Khury from the jury pool but ordered her to return Friday and watch the trial, and told her she would have to serve 24 hours in jail at the end of the case.

“When you appear, don’t bring your children here. Do you understand that? … You have 24 hours to make arrangements,” the judge said.
Khury’s mother, recovering from oral surgery, watched the children while she attended the trial.

The State Court Administrative Office faxed a letter to Bowman telling him he had no authority to punish Khury. The Free Press said the agency also stepped in last year after complaints about the judge’s treatment of jurors.

A legal expert said Khury’s rights had been violated.

“When you are imposing punishment, and that’s what jail is, it becomes criminal contempt,” said Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University’s law school. “She’s entitled to due process, a hearing
and an attorney.”

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