LAKELAND (FOX 13) - Michael Mixon says serving on a jury got him fired.
"It's infuriating, don't get me wrong. I was upset and pretty aggravated over it, " Mixon said.
Mixon was a juror this week on the trial of defendant Carroll Gardner, who was accused of a sex crime. Mixon says by the time they voted to acquit Gardner he was already out of a job as a welder.
"I was told I would be on the job until its completion and then suddenly within days [my employer said], 'I don't need you anymore,'" explained Mixon.
Mixon had been working for a construction company for six months and says he never saw it coming. He told the judge about getting the ax and now the State Attorney's Office in Polk County is investigating.
"You have a right to speak up for yourself," said Mixon.
Polk County Chief Judge Don Jacobsen wasn't happy to hear this.
"It's just appalling that an employer do that. It's so important to have jurors here for their jury service," said Judge Jacobsen.
The chief judge says it's not only wrong to fire a juror but it's illegal.
"Can find that employer in contempt and can incarcerate them, can fine them," explained Judge Jacobsen.
It's too early to see what will happen in this case but Judge Jacobsen doesn't want any juror to "ever" be afraid to sit on a jury because of fear losing their job.
"It is truly one of the most important things that you can do as a citizen," said Judge Jacobsen.
Meantime, Mixon says he is looking for other work and the experience hasn't soured him at all from serving on a jury in the future.
"It's what makes America what it is," said Mixon.