JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Jackson County residents thought they were calling the circuit clerk's office to respond to a jury summons Sunday night. But the voice on the other line was the last thing they expected to hear.
The letters were sent to about 350-Jackson County residents and they had to call several numbers to find out whether to show up for jury selection Monday morning. Imagine their surprise when a recording invited many of them to join an "adult" conversation.
Mike Coleman called the local number listed on his jury summons, but he couldn't get through to the Jackson County Circuit Clerk's Office. So, he dialed the 1-800-number, also listed on the letter.
"I heard 'For hot girls, press 1. For hot guys, press 2', and I went ahead and hung up. I knew that wasn't right. It wasn't the courthouse. I was shocked!" said Coleman.
Thinking he had misdialed, Coleman called the number again. He said the same recording came on. Coleman became worried, because the summons came with a warning for people who don't appear for jury duty if instructed to do so.
"I didn't want to be fined $500 for not showing up to court this morning," said Coleman.
"Speechless, floored, couldn't believe it," said Randy Carney.
That was the reaction from Jackson County Circuit Clerk Randy Carney when he was notified about the problem over the weekend, He said somehow, one number was incorrect. Instead of 3244, the correct number should have been 3044. Carney said about 75-people called his office Monday and some upset residents even showed up in person to report the problem.
"It's very embarrassing. I'm sure at some point down the road, I may sit back and laugh. Right now, I don't think it's very funny," said Carney.
What caused the mix-up remains a mystery. Carney said he just took office a month ago, so the only changes on the summons should have been just his name and the court dates. Carney said his office contracts with a county employee to print the summons, and there should be a template to follow.
"I have no idea at this point. I have not been able to talk to the individual that prints these for us," said Carney.
Coleman said despite this experience, he would not hesitate to respond to future summons.
"Oh, I love jury duty. I'm just shocked that this kind of thing happens with our taxpayer dollars. It's unusual. I kind of hope it never happens again though," he said with a laugh.
Carney is sending out letters to the potential jurors, explaining the error and issuing an apology. He also consulted with several judges and the county district attorney on how to handle the problem.
Not every person who dialed the 800-number reached a sex hot line. Some people got a recording about a vacation survey. WLOX dialed the same 800-number several times and also heard messages about a survey.