About 250 to 300 extra people showed up for a murder trail jury summons at the El Dorado Superior Court Tuesday due to a computer glitch, court administration said.
The system, which is designed to shut down and reboot nightly, failed to restart, according to El Dorado Superior Court Executive Officer Tania G. Ugrin-Capobianco.
When running properly, the system can be accessed either online or by phone and will alert people summoned to the court of cancellations, postponements or changes in time, she said. Court personnel was not aware of the problem until the morning.
“Because the system was locked up, people had notices but couldn’t access the time. Absent that ability, all they had was the hard copy telling them to come in,” Ugrin-Capobianco said. “In my 20 years of doing this, this is a first. These systems are typically pretty fail-safe.”
The court staff, which only needed about 100 people for the morning summons, sent home the extra citizens shortly after 9 a.m.
Todd “Ty” Robben arrived at the court Tuesday morning to find a line that snaked around the court house all the way to Al Tahoe Boulevard.
“I showed up along with everyone else in South Lake Tahoe … It was a mess,” he said Tuesday morning.
Ugrin-Capobianco said she is not sure why the system failed, but that the IT department has fixed the problem. She thanked everyone who showed up for the jury duty summons.
Jury selection in the case against a man accused of killing three teenage girls began last week. Joseph Michael Nissensohn, 62, is charged with murder counts in the 1989 death of South Lake Tahoe 15-year-old Kathy Graves and the 1981 killings of Tanya Jones, 14, and Tammy Jarshke, 13, in Monterey County.
Nissensohn faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering the girls. He has pleaded not guilty.
Jury selection in the case is expected to take place this month and next, with the commencement of the trial scheduled for July 23, according to information given to potential jurors Tuesday. The trial is likely to last into October.