Chief justice: Initiative improves court efficiency

In recent testimony to the Michigan House Appropriations Judiciary Subcommittee, state  Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack highlighted how the jury management performance measure is saving time and money for Michigan courts and citizens.

Implemented in 2017, the performance measure has already had a major impact, reducing the number of people summoned for jury duty by 20 percent, saving $4 million in what would have been lost income and productivity for jurors who were able to go to work instead of reporting.

“Serving on a jury is a basic responsibility of a citizen in our democracy,” said McCormack. “But at the same time, our courts have a responsibility to make the most efficient use of each juror’s time and to implement best practices that make serving on a jury less burdensome.”

The court also published a detailed Jury Management Best Practices Manual featuring 19 best practices selected from effective programs nationwide.

Highlights of the best practices include:

• standardizing jury panel sizes.
• adopting a “one day, one trial” term of service.
• holding jury trials on the same day as selection.
• courts should take enforcement action against those who fail to appear.
• local governments should be creative in alleviating the financial barriers jurors face such as parking, child care, and transportation. Jury management performance measures assess the effectiveness of jury management in a trial court.

The data provide information necessary to determine if a court is maximizing the use of citizens in the jury process and minimizing the number of unused prospective jurors, including the number of citizens
summoned, qualified, and reporting for jury service.

Jury management balances the need for a sufficient number of jurors for a trial with the inconvenience and cost of calling jurors to the court.

The jury management performance measures include two basic components:

1. Juror Yield – the percentage of citizens who were sent qualification questionnaires who qualified for jury duty and available to serve.

2. Juror Utilization – the percentage of jurors who were summoned that were told to report; the percentage of jurors who actually reported that were sent to a courtroom for jury selection; and the percentage of jurors who were sent to a courtroom for jury selection that were used in a trial or questioned in order to be seated for a trial.
 

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