JURORS SHOULD BE PROVIDED WITH FULL AND COMPLETE INFORMATION ABOUT JURY SERVICE FROM THE TIME THEY ARE SUMMONED.
Providing prospective jurors with as much information as possible early in the process will help alleviate much of the apprehension and confusion caused by the receipt of a summons to jury service. Information can be imparted at two stages: before arrival at the court facility and after.
Before Arrival: Optimally, information should be transmitted in several redundant media (e.g., summons; cable television; e-mail; internet; U.S. mail; toll-free telephone) to increase the likelihood of full understanding and exposure and to maximize convenience. To the extent possible, information should impart exactly what a juror will experience upon arrival at the court facility. Additionally, the information should answer these frequently asked questions:
- Term of service;
- Length of typical service;
- Fees and when paid;
- Parking (where and cost);
- Bus routes;
- Length of court day and whether evening service could be necessary;
- Lunch (who pays);
- Available amenities:
- Dependent care;
- Phone, computer outlets;
- Entertainment available at the court facility and what jurors could bring with them;
- Most common types of cases;
- Privacy issues such as the opportunity to ask for private voir dire;
- Ability to ask questions during voir dire;
- Potential punishment for failure to respond;
- How to obtain information on restoration of civil rights;
- Methods for returning the summons and questionnaire, e.g., mail, internet email, or fax;
- How to obtain more information;
- What to do upon arrival.
Information Provided After Arrival
After Arrival: Jurors should be given information about the court process and their responsibilities as jurors. They should be told why they are waiting and the likelihood of being impaneled. Being well informed will generally make jurors feel more appreciated and respected.
Talk to Jurors
When a judge takes the time to greet each panel of jurors personally and to answer their initial questions, it immediately sets a tone that indicates to the prospective jurors that they are an important part of the process. Once a jury has been impaneled, the judge should explain how the trial will proceed. If the jurors are kept waiting, irritation and frustration can be eliminated by the judge simply taking the time to explain, as far as possible, why they are waiting. After the trial is over, the judge should personally express appreciation for the essential service the jurors have performed.
District of Columbia Jury Project, Juries for the Year 2000 and Beyond: Proposals to Improve the Jury Systems in Washington D.C., pp. 3-4 (1998) (proposing that citizens receive substantial information concerning jury service).
CrR 6.2 (providing for a general orientation for all jurors when they report for duty including a juror handbook and juror information sheet).