Practical concerns keep citizens away from jury duty, survey shows.Ask someone in the legal community why citizens aren't responding to jury duty requests, and they'll probably blame highly publicized pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
Adj. 1. publicized - made known; especially made widely known
publicised verdicts like O.J. Simpson's, which have caused some citizens to distrust the judicial system.
On the contrary, a study by the American Judicature Society Founded in 1913, the American Judicature Society (AJS) is an independent, nonpartisan, national organization of judges, lawyers, and interested members of the public whose mission is to improved the justice system - to "secure and promote an independent and qualified judiciary and (AJS AJS American Journal of Sociology
AJS American Judicature Society
AJS American Journal of Surgery
AJS Association for Jewish Studies
AJS Americans for Job Security
AJS Administration of Justice Studies
AJS America-Japan Society
AJS AJ Stevens ) found citizens want to be jurors but are stopped for a variety of other, more practical reasons.
The survey, Improving Citizen Response to Jury Summonses, reported that a common reason citizens don't show up is because they don't receive a jury notice. A substantial percentage never receive a summons because their current address is different from the one registered with the court.
Another reason is that employers won't pay employees for missing work if they serve on a jury, the report said. Other jury candidates can't find child care or transportation to the courthouse.
"Our most important discovery is that citizens' reactions to receiving a summons and their reasons for nonresponse are strikingly different from those of the stereotypical reluctant juror juror n. any person who actually serves on a jury. Lists of potential jurors are chosen from various sources such as registered voters, automobile registration or telephone directories. so frequently portrayed in the media," the study reported. Summoned nonrespondents "tend to believe that jury service would be exciting, that courts generally render just verdicts, and that juries do represent a cross section of the population."
AJS, a Chicago-based, nonpartisan organization, conducted the study to address concerns that low response rates by potential jurors can create a jury pool that is not representative of a jurisdiction's general population. The imbalance could violate a litigant's right to a fair trial The Right to a fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. It is explicitly proclaimed in Article Ten of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, and Article Six of the European Convention of Human . The U.S. Supreme Court has found that juries composed of disproportionately low numbers of women, African Americans, and Latinos can be unconstitutional.
The AJS collected data through two surveys. In the first, 100 court administrators answered a written questionnaire, providing information about their jury summons procedures, jury reforms, and their perceptions of jurors.
In the second survey, 400 summoned jurors in four jurisdictions were interviewed by phone. Citizens summoned by state courts in Phoenix, Seattle, and Norristown, Pennsylvania Norristown is a home rule municipality in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 6 miles (10 km) northwest of the city limits of Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River. It is the county seat of Montgomery County GR6. , and by a federal court in Memphis, Tennessee For the ancient Egyptian capital, see .
Memphis is a city in the southwest corner of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. Memphis rises above the Mississippi River on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff just below the mouth of the Wolf River. , discussed their attitudes. Follow-up calls were made to a smaller number of jurors who served and to people who had not responded to their jury summonses. Surveyors then visited the jurisdictions.
The results showed that a majority of nonrespondents believed they would not be penalized pe·nal·ize
tr.v. pe·nal·ized, pe·nal·iz·ing, pe·nal·iz·es
1. To subject to a penalty, especially for infringement of a law or official regulation. See Synonyms at punish.
2. for failing to appear. If they had a legitimate reason for deferral, they didn't understand how to register their reason and did not believe the court would accept it.
Socioeconomic and education factors played a key role in citizens' perceptions. "Individuals of lower socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. believe that lawyers and court personnel will treat individuals of higher status better, but individuals of higher status believe they would never be put on a jury in the first place," the researchers reported.
The study results suggest that courts need to educate the public about the jury selection process. Education programs should explain how to file excuses and provide statistics like the average voir dire voir dire
(Anglo-French; “to speak the truth”)
In law, the act or process of questioning prospective jurors to determine whether they are qualified and suitable for service on a jury. waiting time and the percentage of summoned people picked for a jury.
The report suggested courts should update their mailing lists and replace complicated legal language in summonses with more common terms. Sprucing up a courtroom's decor, providing day care, and protecting incoming jurors from harm if a court is in an unsafe neighborhood were other recommendations.
The report also recommended that court administrators increase juror compensation and work to ensure that employers compensate workers who serve on juries.
"The AJS study confirms yet one more time the continued viability of the jury system, despite years of jury bashing by tort `reformers.' Citizen-jurors play a democratizing and commonsense com·mon·sense
Having or exhibiting native good judgment: "commonsense scholarship on the foibles and oversights of a genius" Times Literary Supplement. role in the civil justice system that is at once both fundamental and an essential part of the bargain that saw ratification of our Constitution," said Robert Peck, ATLAs senior director for Legal Affairs and Policy Research.
For a copy of the study contact the AJS at (312) 558-6900, ext. 147.