The summons for jury service is a paper document. It includes a response form that allows jurors to postpone service, report disqualification, or request excuse. Jurors may interact with the summons either by paper or by an extremely basic, somewhat outdated technological means. The IVR system includes the ability to postpone service once. The Web Portal includes the ability to postpone service once, report disqualification, or request excuse. These systems are functional but are limited and not user-friendly.
The Court’s communication concerning the summons outcome is either by paper or indirectly (i.e., the juror receiving a subsequent notice because a request was denied, and the Court did not communicate that denial). While a juror is instructed on the summons to follow-up on a request, most do not. They often will not get a response from the Court regarding the request because either: (1) their request was approved or (2) their group was not called in for service. Some will receive a notice of failure to appear because their request was denied, and their group was called in for service. Those jurors who receive the notice of failure to appear feel as if their request was never received or processed, thereby diminishing the professional reputation of the Jury Office. The jurors call in frustration and we expend staff resources to deal with issues that should have been resolved by responding to the juror’s original request.
We are limited in our ability to communicate with jurors using e-mail and texts. This limitation is directly related to the jury management system database: we can only access certain fields through an access module that is designed only for update transactions of name, address, or service date. While the IVR system can generate texts, it cannot access the required data. The jury management system vendor does provide a Web interface, which we use, but it is minimally customizable and is not user-friendly. We have been using the Web Portal for 5 years and there has been no increase in the number of jurors using it.
Goals and Objectives
The Court seeks a robust solution that will utilize information from the jury management system to respond to juror requests to postpone service, report disqualification, and request excuse via e-mail and text.
The Court seeks a solution that will allow us to extract the data fields that we need from the jury management system database into a database that we control and can manipulate. This extract will give us the ability to:
• Respond via e-mail and/or text when a juror submits a request for excuse or disqualification;
• Reach out via e-mail and/or text when a juror has failed to appear for service, replacing a First-Class Mail process;
• Improve the clarity of our reporting instructions by eliminating the group number structure and only dealing with the juror’s unique badge number;
• Eliminate the redundant process of manually posting reporting instructions on the Web site and in the IVR system each day;
• Enhance the Web interface to the point where it would replace the phone system and set the stage for transitioning to a postcard summons; and
• Provide a more accurate means of predicting juror turnout on a daily basis.