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Jury-duty e-mail promoted a TV show

January 16, 2002

Onondaga County Deputy Jury Commissioner Sid Oglesby is to meet today with the head of the local attorney general's office to see if civil or criminal action needs to be taken over an e-mail jury-duty stunt linked to a television network's publicity campaign.

An official from the WB network has accepted responsibility for the stunt, which resulted in bogus e-mail jury-duty notices being sent to as many as 7 million people across the country. The stunt was aimed at publicizing the "Jamie Kennedy Experiment," a new comedy show.

"It's important to see that something like this is not allowed to happen," Oglesby said, noting the stunt had the potential to disrupt the jury-duty system.

The network admitted it hired an online company, eUniverse, to promote the show in an offbeat way, and eUniverse sent the 7 million e-mail jury notices to subscribers who had registered at its Web site.

Onondaga County officials began looking into the matter last week after a local resident reported receiving an e-mail jury-duty notice. Oglesby issued a public warning Friday that the jury commissioner's office did not send any communications by e-mail, and he advised anyone else receiving one to notify his office.

The sheriff's department was able to trace the e-mails, to California, and officials were pursuing a further investigation when Oglesby's office received news of the WB network accepting responsibility, Oglesby said.

A network official issued an apology Monday. Oglesby said Tuesday he would pursue the matter today with Assistant Attorney General Winthrop Thurlow, who runs the attorney general's regional office in Syracuse, to see if more should be done.

Oglesby said the court system relies on people serving jury duty, and it should not be allowed to be jeopardized by such a publicity stunt.

State Supreme Court Justice James Tormey III, the local judicial district's supervising judge, said Tuesday that the stunt threatens to undermine all the work Oglesby has done to make jury service more acceptable and more rewarding to residents.

"When some clown like this pulls a stunt that doesn't understand the dignity of the process, it creates havoc," Tormey said.

The Associated Press. Copyright © 2002 The Post-Standard


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