Court's pilot project covers juror transportation costs

By Melanie Deeds
Legal News

There’s no such thing as a free ride — unless you are summoned by Macomb County to serve on a jury.

A jury summons now comes with on-demand transportation to and from the courthouse as part of a 60-day pilot project unveiled Tuesday by Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh.

“The right to a jury of your peers is fundamental to our democracy, and Uber is helping Macomb County put innovation into the justice system to safeguard this right,” she said. “Uber’s technology connects jurors with safe rides, frees up parking in the city and creates an opportunity for Macomb County residents to earn extra cash by driving jurors to court to do their civic duty.”

Sabaugh said jurors will receive an Uber code good for a $20 ride each way or $40 round trip to and from the courthouse. 

In most cases, she said, the code will cover the full cost of a ride. 

“Uber believes that getting a safe and affordable ride should be an option for everyone,” said Mike White, general manager of Uber Michigan, whose company is picking up the tab during the two-month period.

“If we are able to come together as a community to minimize transportation deserts, civic participation will grow,” said White. “We are excited to be a part of this pilot project and look forward to protecting and encouraging the democratic process in Macomb County.”

The ride must start or end at the Macomb County Circuit Court Building in Mount Clemens, according to Sabaugh, and the cost will depend on the distance from a juror’s home.

Some jurors have difficulty finding transportation for jury duty, Sabaugh said.

She added she’s also concerned about jurors who worry about finding parking or driving in bad weather.

In addition, construction in the downtown area has limited the availability of parking, Sabaugh noted.

“We want people to be relaxed and we don’t want them having a problem getting to and from the courthouse,” she said.

After Macomb County jurors receive a summons and answer the online questionnaire, Sabaugh said, they will receive a unique Macomb County Juror Uber link to create an Uber account.

Jurors who choose to use the offer will be picked up at their home and dropped off at the courthouse, she said. Jurors also may use their code to request a ride home from the court building.

Sabaugh said riders are encouraged to use the fare estimate feature in the Uber app to determine if the promotional code covers the round-trip fare.

When a rider requests a ride through the free Uber smartphone app, he or she sees available cars on a map.

The nearest driver is alerted of the ride request and is given the rider’s pick up location.

Sabaugh said she will continue to offer free bus tickets as an option under a program that is operated in partnership with Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation.

Under another initiative launched a while ago by Sabaugh, jurors receive restaurant-style pagers, depending on court docket demand, which allows them to shop or go outside while waiting to be summoned to jury duty. In a partnership with the Mount Clemens library, free library books are provided at the jury room.

“We want jury duty to be a good experience,” Sabaugh said.