Five Franklin County residents showed up for jury duty Monday morning believing Will Ferrell would be sitting alongside them.
It was all an Internet hoax.
An online news report with zero attribution claimed the actor and comedian had been selected for jury duty and was “required to attend a criminal trial in Pasco … (that) is scheduled to last roughly three weeks.”
The report also quoted Ferrell’s publicist as saying the actor was “happy to fulfill his civic duty” in Washington state.
The rumor, spread through social media, had some Tri-Citians all atwitter with speculation in the past week.
That was fueled by the knowledge that a murder trial actually was starting Monday in Franklin County Superior Court and is expected to last two to three weeks.
Ferrell does not own property in Pasco or anywhere in the county, the Franklin County Assessor’s Office confirmed Monday.
Even if he did, property ownership is not a deciding factor in whether a person will receive a jury summons.
Names in the jury database are compiled from voter registration, driver license and ID cards.
Ferrell isn’t in there, even under his given name of John William Ferrell, said Sara Gore, the county’s jury manager.
Franklin County Clerk Mike Killian said he received text messages, emails and messages through Facebook asking if there was any truth to the reports. The inquiries came from another elected official, county staff, an attorney and friends.
He replied that Ferrell wouldn’t be doing standup any time soon inside the Franklin County Courthouse.
Gore said some people who knew about the upcoming trial asked her about the Ferrell rumor and if they could sit in court as an observer. She also got a few random phone calls at work.
Jury selection got under way in the joined trial of Santos Flores-Alcaide and his nephew, Enrique Alcaide.
The two Lower Yakima Valley men are accused of killing Eduardo Angon Del Villar on Aug. 30 outside La Tropicana dance club in Pasco.
After the 120 prospective jurors were all seated in the courtroom, Gore asked how many of them showed up thinking Ferrell was going to be there.
Five hands raised, followed by some giggling, she said.