Jury Service Reform

Problem

Despite the public’s strong support of the jury system, interest in serving on juries has dropped off substantially in recent years. Each year, approximately 15 million Americans are summoned to jury duty. A significant number citizens simply ignore the juror summons. In some urban jurisdictions, fewer than 10% of its citizens respond. While a portion of this non-response rate is attributable to out-of-date records and summonses that are mailed to the wrong address, many citizens simply ignore their civic obligation and opportunity to serve. Those who do arrive at the courthouse often avoid service through “occupational exemptions” that benefit certain professions or come presenting flimsy “hardship excuses” to escape jury duty. All too often, they are successful. Jury duty can impose a severe financial hardship on working people. In most states, employers are not required to pay their employees during any period in which they are absent for jury service. These citizens are faced with receiving only a miniscule court fee (usually $10- 40) per day for their service, an amount that may not even reimburse them for transportation costs. High-income professionals avoid jury service through statutory exemptions, hardship excuses, and lax enforcement of summonses. Juror hardship is particularly great in the small percentage of trials that can last several days, weeks, or months. This trend has made it difficult to fill the jury box, increased courts’ administrative costs, and threatened the constitutional right to a representative jury.

ATRA's Position:

All citizens should equally share the obligation or jury duty regardless of their occupation and income level. Not only does requiring all to serve more fairly distribute the burden of jury service throughout the public, but it is also necessary to ensure a diverse and representative jury. ATRA encourages the states to lessen the burden on working people called for jury duty and thereby encourage their service by:

  1. Establishing an easy method of obtaining one automatic postponement of jury service to a date of the juror’s choosing;
  2. Adopting and implementing a one-day/one-trial system;
  3. Limiting the frequency of jury service;
  4. Requiring that businesses provide employees with their regular salary for the first ten days of jury service, while exempting small businesses from this obligation;
  5. Protecting the employment benefits of those who serve on juries by not permitting employers to require their employees to use leave time in order to serve; and
  6. Creating a fund to provide additional compensation for jurors selected to serve on long trials.

ATRA also encourages states to ensure that all people serve on juries by:

  1. Eliminating all occupational exemptions from jury service;
  2. Tightening the standard for hardship excuses; and
  3. Providing that ignoring a juror summons is punishable as a criminal misdemeanor.

Opposition Opinion:

No one opposes the effort to encourage greater participation on juries.

Lengthy Trial Fund – H.B. 2246

Arizona|2017

Extends the sunset provision of the Arizona lengthy trial fund

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Extends the sunset provision of the Arizona lengthy trial fund from June 30, 2019, to June 30, 2027.


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Unchallenged

Jury Service: H.B. 774 (1988)

Mississippi|1988

Jury service exemption requirements – doctors and lawyers are now

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Jury service exemption requirements – doctors and lawyers are now eligible for service – all those called must appear in court and be excused for cause.


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Unchallenged

Jury Service Reform: H.B. 2008 (2003)

Louisiana|2003

Required all people to serve on juries unless they experience

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Required all people to serve on juries unless they experience undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.  Established a lengthy trial fund to compensate jurors up to $300 per juror, per day for trials lasting more than 10 days, starting on the eleventh day of trial.  In such circumstances, jurors would also be eligible to retroactively collect up to $100 per day from the fourth day to the tenth day of service.  The bill did not specify a financing mechanism, but tasked the Louisiana Supreme Court to develop recommendations for the Legislature to consider at some point in the future.  Prohibited employers from dismissing or otherwise subjecting employees to any adverse employment action for responding to a jury service summons.  Allowed for one automatic postponement from service.  


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Unchallenged

Jury Service Reform: S.B. 1248 (2014)

Arizona|2014

Extends the Lengthy Jury Trial Fund for another ten years

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Extends the Lengthy Jury Trial Fund for another ten years to June 30, 2024.  Arizona’s Lengthy Jury Trial Fund was established in 2003 as a part of a comprehensive jury service reform package to attract better jurors.  The fund was scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2014.


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Unchallenged

Jury Service Reform: HB 324 (2003).

Utah|2003

Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience

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Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience undue or extreme physical or financial hardship or incur substantial costs or lost opportunities due to missing an event that was scheduled prior to the initial notice of potential jury service.  Provides that a person who fails to appear for jury duty is in contempt of court and subject to penalties under Title 78, Chapter 32, Contempt.  Provides that a person who willfully misrepresents a material fact regarding qualification for, excuse from, or postponement of jury service is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.  Provides for employee protection by prohibiting an employer to require an employee to use annual, vacation, or sick leave for the time spent in the jury service process.  In addition, it prohibits employers to dismiss or in any other way penalize employees for responding to a jury service summons.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 1704 (2005).

Texas|2005

Increases juror pay in both civil and criminal cases from

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Increases juror pay in both civil and criminal cases from not less than $6 per day to not less than $40 per day, beginning on the second day of service.  The increased compensation is to be financed by a $4 fee placed on individuals convicted of a crime.  Provides prospective jurors with one automatic postponement from service, in which case service must be rescheduled within six months after the date of the original summons.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 3034 (2011).

Oregon|2011

Provides that a judge or clerk of the court may

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Provides that a judge or clerk of the court may not defer jury service for a person more than once unless the person seeks deferral for a specified emergency and the person could not have anticipated circumstances when the first deferral was granted.  Under the legislation, an employer may not require that an employee use vacation leave, sick leave, or annual leave for time spent by an employee in responding to summons for jury duty and the employer must allow the employee to take leave without pay for time spent.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 479 (2004).

Oklahoma|2004

Provides jurors the right to automatically postpone service one time. 

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Provides jurors the right to automatically postpone service one time.  Reduced the length of service from a two-week term to no more than one day unless selected to serve on a jury.  Limits jury service to once every two years.  Creates a lengthy trial fund which compensates jurors up to $200 per day, starting on the eleventh day of service – the fund is to be financed by a $10 filing fee on all civil cases.  Provides jurors employment protections by prohibiting employers from penalizing jurors who serve.  Provides small business protections by allowing an employee of a small business to differ service if another employee from the same firm is already serving in the same period.  Increases penalties for no-shows.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 71 (2004); Amended ORC Ann. 2313.12; ORC Ann. 2313.16; ORC Ann. 2313.18; ORC Ann. 2313.34; ORC Ann. 2313.251; ORC Ann. 2313.99.

Ohio|2004

Provides for one automatic postponement from service with the requirement

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Provides for one automatic postponement from service with the requirement that juror must reschedule service within six months of the original summons.  Sets stricter criteria to be excused from service and allowed citizens 75 years of age or older to be excused upon request.  Prohibits employers from taking any disciplinary action that could lead to the discharge of any permanent employee due to absence from work for jury duty.  Provides that employers may not require an employee to use annual, vacation, or sick leave time for the time period of service.  Protected small business (with twenty five or fewer full-time employees) by requiring the court to postpone and reschedule the service of an employee of a small business if another employee of that employer is summoned to jury service during the same period.  Reduces the maximum period of availability for jury service from three weeks to two weeks.  Provides for the establishment of an electronic juror notification system (cellular telephone, pager, or other forms of telecommunication) to alert the juror of the need to appear in person in court during the period of availability provided in the juror summons.  Eliminates the maximum permitted daily juror compensation rate of $40.  Provides the Board of County Commissioners with authority to provide a higher rate of compensation.  Increases the minimum fine for failure to appear for jury service from $25 to $100.  The maximum $250 was unchanged by the new law.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 240 (2005); Amended N.M. Stat. Ann. § 38-5-10.1; Amended N.M. Stat. Ann. § 38-5-2; Amended N.M. Stat. Ann. § 38-5-3.

New Mexico|2005

Provides for: automatic postponement, allowing summoned jurors to reschedule     service

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Provides for: automatic postponement, allowing summoned jurors to reschedule     service within six months of the original date; small business protections, allowing jurors who work for employers with fewer than five employees to postpone service if another employee is summoned within the same time period; leave time protection; and an expansion of juror source lists to include income tax filers.  The legislation includes a hardship standard, defining that an excused juror must demonstrate that participating in their service would (1) be required to abandon another person under the person’s care or supervision due to the extreme difficulty of obtaining an appropriate substitute caregiver during the period of jury service; (2) incur costs that would have a substantial adverse impact on the payment of necessary daily living expenses of the person or the person’s dependent; or (3) suffer physical hardship that would result in illness or disease. Hardship would not exist solely because a prospective juror will be absent from employment.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 2488 (2006); Amended Miss. Code Ann. § 13-5-23.

Mississippi|2006

Postpones the enactment of the jury service portion of H.B.

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Postpones the enactment of the jury service portion of H.B. 13 (2004) until January 1, 2008.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 13 (special session) (2004); Amended Miss. Code Ann. § 13-5-23.

Mississippi|2004

Establishes a lengthy trial fund to compensate jurors up to

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Establishes a lengthy trial fund to compensate jurors up to $300 per day, starting      on the eleventh day of service.  In such circumstances, jurors who can show hardship may also receive compensation of up to $100 per day from the fourth through tenth days of service.  Specifies circumstances under which jurors may be excused from service.  Provides for penalties for those who fail to appear: fines up to $500 and/or three days imprisonment, or alternatively community service.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 1211 (2004); § 494.432 R.S.Mo.

Missouri|2004

Provides for stricter criteria for jurors to be excused from

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Provides for stricter criteria for jurors to be excused from service.  Allows one automatic postponement from service.  Specifies a maximum fine of $500 for those who fail to appear for jury service.  Provides for employee protections which prohibits employers from requiring employees to use personal or sick leave for time spent responding to a summons for jury duty.  Provides for small business protections which required a court to reschedule the service of a summoned juror if the juror works for an employer with five or fewer employees and has another employee already summoned during the same period.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 1185 (2005); HB 1185 (2005); Repealed Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 7-202(d), Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-202(5)(i)1.C., Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 8-207, Md. COURTS AN

Maryland|2005

Increases juror compensation from $15 to $50 per day, after

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Increases juror compensation from $15 to $50 per day, after the fifth day of service.  Provided leave time protections for employees.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 1686 (2009); Amended Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 33-28-4-8 (repealed effective July 1, 2007).

Indiana|2009

Provides that an individual at least 75 years of age

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Provides that an individual at least 75 years of age may be exempted from jury duty if the individual requests an exemption from jury duty.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 232 (2006).

Indiana|2006

Provides a one-time postponement to another date within one year

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Provides a one-time postponement to another date within one year upon a showing of hardship, extreme inconvenience, or necessity.  Protects an individual called for jury service who provides reasonable notice to his or her employer from being subjected to adverse employment action.  Prohibits employers from requiring or requesting employees to use annual leave for jury service.  In addition, the legislation eliminates automatic postponement from jury service including those for ferry-keepers and persons employed in attendance at such ferry, people age 65 and older, government officials, legislators, armed services, veterinarians, dentists, Indianapolis School Board members, and police and fire department members.


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Jury Service Reform: HB 2008 (2003)

Indiana|2003

Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience

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Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.  Establishes a lengthy trial fund to compensate jurors up to $300 per juror, per day for trials lasting more than 10 days, starting on the eleventh day of trial.  In such circumstances, jurors would also be eligible to retroactively collect up to $100 per day from the fourth day to the tenth day of service.  The bill did not specify a financing mechanism, but tasked the Louisiana Supreme Court to develop recommendations for the Legislature to consider at some point in the future.  Prohibits employers from dismissing or otherwise subjecting employees to any adverse employment action for responding to a jury service summons.  Allows for one automatic postponement from service.


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Unchallenged

Juror Service Courts- H.B. 1153 (2011); C.R.S. 13-71-101- 13-71-133.

Colorado|2011

Requires each juror service summons to include instructions for retrieving

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Requires each juror service summons to include instructions for retrieving jury service acknowledgment information.  Allows jurors to be notified by telephone of date changes and requires juror service information to be available via internet for 12 months after time of juror service.  Changes mandatory payment to jurors from weekly to within 10 days after service for trial jurors, and “at least on a monthly basis” for grand jurors.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 1159 (2004); Amended C.R.S. 13-71-104.

Colorado|2004

Establishes stricter criteria for jurors to be excused from services.

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Establishes stricter criteria for jurors to be excused from services. Provides protections for small business by allowing employees of small businesses to reschedule service if another employee from the same firm already is serving on a jury.


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Jury Service Reform: S.B. 1142 (2012)

Arizona|2012

Allows jurors of lengthy trials to begin being paid at

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Allows jurors of lengthy trials to begin being paid at the higher rate on the first day of service, instead of the fourth day, if their employer does not compensate them.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 2133 (2006); Amended A.R.S. § 21-222.

Arizona|2006

Modifies key provisions of ALEC’s Jury Patriotism Act that was

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Modifies key provisions of ALEC’s Jury Patriotism Act that was adopted in 2003 to make jurors eligible to receive compensation from the lengthy trial fund (up to $300 per day) for those who serve on juries for more than five days.  In such circumstances, jurors would then receive additional compensation beginning from the fourth day served.


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Jury Service Reform: H.B. 2305 (2005); Amended A.R.S. § 21-202.

Arizona|2005

Amends criteria for prospective jurors to be excused from service

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Amends criteria for prospective jurors to be excused from service by permitting a person who is at least 75 years of age to have the option to be temporarily or permanently excused from service.  Provides that a judge or jury commissioner may temporarily excuse a prospective juror for good cause, such as a lack of transportation or absence from the jurisdiction.  Includes technical changes to the statement required for verification of the medical need for an excuse due to a mental or physical condition that makes the prospective juror unfit for service.


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Jury Service Reform: HB 2520 (2003)

Arizona|2003

Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience

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Requires all people to serve on juries unless they experience undue or extreme physical or financial hardship.  Establishes a lengthy trial fund from a modest filing fee to compensate jurors a minimum of $40 and a maximum of $300 per juror, per day for trials lasting more than 10 days, starting on the eleventh day of trial.  In such circumstances, jurors would also be eligible to retroactively collect at least $40 but not more than $100 per day from the fourth day to the tenth day of service.  Provides for employee protection by prohibiting an employer to require an employee to use annual or sick leave for the time spent in the jury service process.  In addition, it prohibits employers to dismiss or in any other way penalize employees for responding to a jury service summons.  Provides for protection of small business owners by requiring the court to postpone the service of an employee if another employee of that business is already serving on a jury.  Allows for one automatic postponement from service.  Provides for jurors to serve no more than one day unless selected to serve on a trial.  Provides that a willful failure to appear for jury duty is a Class 3 misdemeanor.


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Unchallenged

Other Reforms.

Arizona

In 1993, Arizona became one of the first states to

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In 1993, Arizona became one of the first states to initiate a major jury reform initiative when the Arizona Supreme Court established its Committee on the More Effective Use of Juries.  The Committee adopted 55 recommendations.  Fifteen of these recommendations resulted in immediate changes to the Supreme Court Rules.  The implemented reforms primarily aim to increase juror comprehension and involvement in trials.  These reforms include encouraging mini-opening statements prior to voir dire, giving jurors copies of jury instructions, providing juror notebooks, allowing jurors to ask questions, and allowing jurors to discuss the evidence among themselves during civil trials. Arizona’s reform is viewed as a model by other states.  Arizona did not succeed, however, in implementing universal service recommendations such as expanding juror source lists, using follow-up procedures for non-respondents to jury service, carefully monitoring deferral or excuses from service, and revising statutory provisions for jury pay.


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Jury Service Reform: SB 87 (special session) (2005).

Alabama|2005

Provided the right to one automatic postponement with the requirement

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Provided the right to one automatic postponement with the requirement that service be rescheduled within six months of the original summons.  Protected small businesses (defined as having five or fewer full time employees) by requiring the court to postpone and reschedule the service of an employee of a small business if another employee of that employer is already serving.  Limited the frequency of service to no more than once every two years.  Prohibited an employer from taking any adverse employment action against an employee solely because the person serves on a jury.  Clarified that employers may not require an employee to use annual, vacation, or sick leave time for the period in which he or she leaves.  Set stricter for prospective jurors to be excused from service.  Increased the maximum fine for contempt for failure to appear from $100 to $300.


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