Many local governments have a problem with jurors not showing up when summoned. LegalZoom reports that “as much as 80 percent of the population [are] shirking jury duty in some counties.” And then comes the unpleasant affair of trying to get a hold of these duty-shirkers and administering appropriate punishment.
Many of these jurors who fail to report have no legitimate excuse. Their summons were not lost in the mail, nor do they have a physical ailment that excludes them from being able to serve on the jury. So what can be done to help reduce the rate of jurors who fail to answer their summons?
Text Message Solution?
The government of Macomb County, Michigan, has found a possible solution: sending text message reminders. These text alerts remind jurors of upcoming jury duty, the idea being that the reminders will help reduce the number of jurors who ignore their summons.
According to the article from Macomb County’s The Macomb Daily, the percentage of jurors who actually showed up when summoned increased from 24.3 percent to 43.5 percent during the six-month trial period of the county’s text messaging service. That’s quite an increase!
Tamela Harvey offers personal testimony to the text messaging strategy’s effectiveness. She was summoned for jury duty but forgot about it. If it had not been for the text reminders she received, she would have missed her summons.
Macomb County’s process for this strategy involved having jurors log in to a website provided for them. Then they would receive 3 texts in the days leading up to their jury summons date, as well as 1 text the day of. Jurors also received updates regarding when and where to report and when they were allowed to go on break during service days.
The future looks bright for Macomb County’s use of text alert reminders for jurors, and the program is predicted to save the government thousands of dollars. Sounds like a good investment to me!