Hartford City reverend chooses jail instead of paying fine after forgetting jury duty

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BLACKFORD COUNTY, Ind. - A Hartford City reverend is headed to jail for a day for failing to show up to jury duty.

In June, Reverend Ferrell Long was summoned for jury duty by the Blackford County Courts. He said he put the letter on his kitchen table and simply forgot about it. At that time, there was a lot going on in his personal life. Long's wife was in the hospital with serious health problems and he was traveling an hour to Fort Wayne to visit with her.

"I think I was about to lose her," said Long.

He explained his circumstances to Blackford County Judge Dean Young, who gave Long two options: Pay a $50 fine or spend a night in jail.

Long chose jail.

Now why wouldn't he just pay the fine and avoid the trouble? Long said this situation has now become a matter of principle. He pointed to a local newspaper article and claimed Judge Young made a blanket statement about people who miss jury duty, calling into question Long's honesty.

"People say they forget but they really don't forget," Long recalled the judge saying. "Well, I really forgot."

We reached out to Judge Young, but he hasn't been available to make a comment.

In his 75 years, Long has never been locked up. On Saturday at noon, he will step into the Blackford County Jail. He's a little nervous, but he is hoping to use his time behind bars to preach to inmates.

He said he understands Judge Young is just doing his job, but he can't see why he couldn't have been more understanding of his circumstances. He said if Judge Young hadn't made that statement in the newspaper, he would've probably paid the fine and moved on.

"If I accepted just the fine then I would be accepting the fact that I lied. And this is what it's all about," said Long. "I did not lie to the judge."

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