3OYS: County insists deceased woman must still show up for jury duty

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A month after Patricia Lafferty died, her husband Jim Lafferty spoke to 3 On Your Side, and shared his memories about his wife.

"We had 50 great years," Jim Lafferty told 3 On Your Side. "50 very fabulous years and we both loved each other very much."

Lafferty spent half a century loving and caring for Patricia after returning home from the Korean War.

"It was great," Jim said. "She was a very fabulous lady and I thought a lot of her, as you can tell. It didn't take us long to get married."

But, toward the end of their marriage, illness began to set in. As Patricia tried to enjoy her golden years, her health deteriorated.

"I knew for quite awhile that she wasn't feeling well," Jim admitted. "But she's the type of person that would not admit it."

Things got so bad, Patricia had to be admitted to the hospital recently, where she was diagnosed with cancer. She was given a short time to live and put in hospice care. But, Joanne Lafferty says it was right around this time that Patricia, her mother-in-law, received a letter from Maricopa County.

"That same day was when we got a jury duty notice in the mail," Joanne said. "So we thought it would be appropriate to mark that she had a terminal illness and could not make it."

Unfortunately, Patricia died days later.

And as for that jury summons from the the County, family members didn't think much of it again. Remember, they sent in a notice saying Patricia was in hospice care preparing to die.

However, that didn't stop the County. Jim Lafferty says he went to the mailbox again, only to find another notice saying Patricia's terminal illness excuse was denied. The note read that Patricia, the wife he just buried, had to show up in court.

"I think they disrespected us and I think they were very wrong doing that," Jim said.

3 On Your Side got hold of the County to find out why Patricia's terminal illness was denied, and why they had kept hounding a woman no longer with him.

A county spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, but 3 On Your Side received an email saying, "the matter was reviewed and the issue resolved."

That means Jim won't be getting any more disturbing jury summons for the wife he misses dearly.

"For other people, if this happens, just right off the bat it could really devastate them," Jim said. "And it bothered me and it still does."