Award-Winning Jury Communications
July 22, 2021 by
Effectively gathering and communicating with jurors is a process requiring constant innovation. With changing technology and constituent expectations based on private sector experiences, summons, reminders, and notifications to jurors must likewise continue to evolve.
How to effectively manage jurors and their interactions with the court became even more complex with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The two 2021 Tyler Excellence Award winners below leveraged their jury management and communication systems to stay connected and continue operating safely.
Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court, Florida
When the pandemic hit, the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court in Florida started working on a new communications plan. Through new, online empanelment, county staff was not only able to summon jurors online, but the jurors themselves could also quickly answer general and COVID-related questionnaires. On trial day, the court used SMS to re-verify a negative COVID status. Once at the courthouse, jurors reported to prespecified locations with appropriate distancing measures in place. Upon completion of service, jurors were able to simply go online to obtain their service certificate or have it emailed directly to their employers.
“In the end, our solution not only helped us overcome the obstacles COVID put in our way, but we have a better product to show for it,” said John Anderson, chief deputy of operations. “We are saving money and providing a better experience for our jurors. We often forget that jurors are everyday people and that we are asking them to set aside their lives for a period of time to do something for the greater good.”
The solutions implemented by Okaloosa County Clerk increased juror satisfaction and overall efficiency. New, digital communication facilitated more specificity regarding service dates and times, which is not only respectful of jurors’ time, but also allows the court to send out few summons, saving associated costs and staff work. Most importantly, jurors report feeling safe and respected throughout the process.
Learn more about how the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court saved costs and kept jurors safe with online empanelment and direct communication.
Superior Court of California, Placer County
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Placer County Superior Court enhanced its jury management system to continue to connect with jurors in a timely manner. The system helped staff select jurors, send summons and reminders, communicate with jurors regarding disqualification or excuse, and notify jurors if and when they needed to appear. Additionally, an online portal allows prospective jurors the option to sign up for push messaging via email or text.
“With the previous system, jurors communicated with the court primarily by post: prospective jurors would be instructed to mail a form to request an excuse or disqualification,” explained Jake Chatters, court executive officer. “With the online portal and the expanded text and email messaging capabilities, prospective jurors can determine their eligibility to serve online and directly request to be excused or disqualified.”
Prospective jurors who requested an excuse or disqualification now enter a queue for staff to review. Before, there was no way to determine which requests were under review, resulting in multiple staff reviews of the same request. Now, an indicator marks requests as under review, expediting the triage process. Court staff can immediately evaluate and approve jurors online and communicate through email. Approved jurors receive email and text reminders prior to the week of their summons date. Automated reminders are sent daily, and customized messages can be sent to select pools to provide the most recent information to specific jurors.
The online portal changes also improved the court’s ability to make data-driven decisions. Based on how many prospective jurors log onto the portal and complete the eligibility survey, staff can predict how many will appear the following day. This precise data allowed the court to plan its summons and court space in a manner consistent with COVID-19 guidelines.
Find out more about Placer County Superior Court’s new ways to reach jurors during the pandemic and beyond.