In a new program in New Jersey, the Judiciary is sending text and email messages to jurors to remind them of their summons date and to advise petit jurors about whether they will be required to report or will be called off the next day.
“We recognize that jurors make sacrifices to perform a vital public service,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “Because so many jurors today rely on electronic communication, we want to meet their expectations and update them about jury service in the most convenient way possible.”
At the close of each court day, Judiciary jury managers reassess the number of jurors who will be needed to report the next day so that jurors do not report unnecessarily and costs are reduced.
Providing this information by text or email is an additional Judiciary service. Jurors already can check that information at judiciary.state.nj.us or call the jury reporting number to find out if they have to be at the courthouse the following day.
The Judiciary now will send that information by text and email messages to jurors who opt in for that purpose.
Information on how to sign up to receive text messages is included when jurors respond to their juror summons online. Petit jurors who opt to receive text or email messages will receive a reminder notice about a week in advance of their reporting date and also will receive the “call off” message if they do not need to report. This additional service is only available to those jurors who respond to their summons online.
Jurors can opt out of the text alert system at any time and will not receive messages after their jury service concludes.
About 30,000 jurors have opted in for the service, which was first offered to jurors responding online on June 24, 2013. More than 200,000 citizens report to New Jersey courthouses as petit and grand jurors each year.
Other efforts by the courts to enhance jury service include wireless Internet access, which is available in every courthouse in the state, desktop computers in certain courthouses for use by jurors, and recently renovated jury assembly rooms in many locations.
At the discretion of the trial judge, jurors may be permitted to take notes, and jurors in civil trials may be authorized to propose questions to be asked of witnesses during a trial. Those kinds of actions help jurors stay engaged in the case and better understand the information being presented.
In New Jersey, the Judiciary is required by law to create a single list for juror selection that combines names from four different lists—registered voters, licensed drivers, filers of New Jersey personal income tax returns, and applicants for homestead rebates—so that as many persons as possible can have the opportunity to serve as jurors and so that jury pools are representative.