Courts Extend Thanks to Jurors
Jury Administrator Rhonda R. Vermette, of the District of Connecticut, would be the first to admit that most people don’t look forward to receiving a jury summons. But, she says, the experience of serving on a jury makes believers out of most of them.
“In my many years on the job, I’ve seen very few people excited to start jury service,” Vermette said. “But by the end, most are beaming with pride and eager to share their experience with friends and family.”
This week is Juror Appreciation Week, and federal courts across the country are honoring citizens for their participation and raising awareness about the importance of jury service. A trial by jury is a right guaranteed by the Constitution in criminal and most civil cases, which is one reason why jury service is a vital civic contribution by citizens ages 18 and older.
For that reason, federal courts are continuously working to improve the juror experience, actively adopting new strategies and technologies that reduce wait times, paperwork, and trips to the courthouse. Some courts, like in the District of Connecticut, now include possible trial dates on their jury summons, saving people the inconvenience of visiting the courthouse if they are unable to serve during the time frame.
“Our goal is to provide jurors with a positive experience,” Vermette said. “Some trials can take a week or longer, and it’s important to make the courthouse a friendly environment.”
Courts around the country are celebrating the week by outfitting jury assembly rooms with banners and balloons and arranging for judges and clerks of court to give remarks thanking jurors for their service. Jurors also receive assorted refreshments and tokens of appreciation.
Courts also recognize that some citizens may see jury service as an imposition, feeling their time has been wasted if they are not selected to sit on a jury.
“Many jurors don’t realize that their presence in the courtroom alone influences litigants’ decisions on whether to take a case to trial,” said Steven M. Larimore, court administrator and clerk of court for the Southern District of Florida. “Having potential jurors available to serve can shift litigants’ outlook of a case and lead them to a resolution before trial, making every step of jury service integral to the pursuit of justice.”
Gregory J. Linhares, clerk of court for the Eastern District of Missouri, said, “Juries are a critical component of American democracy. A jury brings together a diverse cross section of the community to serve as an impartial evaluator of facts, ensuring that justice is fairly served.”