NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Norfolk woman is battling the court system over jury duty notices, but they’re not for her– they’re for her dead husband.
Robert Cornwell passed more than a year ago, if you talk to his wife, Ruth, she’ll tell you that’s the only thing that would keep him from doing his civic duty. Robert passed away from complications he suffered after 20 years of naval service.
At the end of his life, Dawn Smith took care of Robert and his wife.
“He was deceased in Norfolk, will in Norfolk, everything in Norfolk. I cancelled the voter registration the week after he died,” Smith says.
So when the first two summons came in, she called the Norfolk Circuit Court to tell them Robert had died.
“We never got a call back. The four times we called, we never got a call back,” says Smith.
Then last month another summons came in followed by a stern letter.
“It is hereby ordered that the defendant appear personally before this court,” Ruth reads from the letter.
10 On Your side called the Norfolk Circuit Court clerk. A supervisor said they get their lists from the DMV and Voter Registration lists. He also said they checked their messages and never received one from Ruth Cornwell. The supervisor said they need to send in his death certificate to the office.
“I don’t understand what we’re supposed to do, other than keep calling,” says Smith.
For Ruth Cornwell each summons is a constant reminder that Robert is gone.
“If he’d have been alive, he wouldn’t have said anything, he would have gotten up and gone, says Ruth.
Smith says they are emailing over another death certificate.