Low Texas jury duty participation widespread problem
POSTED: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 10:51pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 3:34pm
Tyler, Texas (KETK) — A new study conducted by the "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse", finds low rates of jury service participation is a widespread problem across Texas. In the 13 counties researched, 80 percent of people summoned for jury duty, don't show up.
KETK spoke with Smith County District 7 Judge, Kerry Russell, who said, "Some counties do have trouble getting enough jurors to show up, they can't have all the jury trials they need to have because they don't have sufficient jurors". This is the case even though nearly 90 percent of Texans still believe serving on a jury is important.
We spoke with locals who agreed, and said, "Well it might be a little inconvenient but I think it's important to take the time and do it". Another said, " If people don't do it then how would you have a jury of your peers?" The majority of residents we spoke with, participated in jury duty three times.
However, in Smith County, from February through July of 2014, jury participation remains consistent. Russell explained, "The number of summons that Smith county sent out in that period was over 36,000 summons. You end up with just a little over 5,000 that just did not show up". According to numbers from the Smith County Jury Coordinator, Lisa Bennett, 7,737 people reported for duty, 2,468 were panelists, 377 were excused, and 2,493 rescheduled.
In order to combat the issue, Governor Rick Perry declared July, "Juror Appreciation Month". Russell said, "It is we the people. You know the court system only works when the people show up to help us".
For a breakdown of the jury duty statistics, click: http://www.tala.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Texas-Jury-Participation-Final-Report-FINAL1.pdf .