Judge Frances Gull
Judge Frances C. Gull, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division, Allen Superior Court in Indiana, has been selected as the recipient of the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2015 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation. The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations or individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations and practices.
Judge Gull has dedicated the past 10 years to electronically upgrading Allen County’s Superior Court jury management system. She assisted with the establishment of mJuror, which allows constituents to perform several juror-related tasks electronically. Once potential jurors log onto the application, they can register an unlimited number of accounts via their smart phone or email and complete a qualification questionnaire. Summoned jurors may use the app to request an excuse or deferral or set reminders before their appearances by text or email. In addition, jurors can view a map of the courthouse location or request a link to Google Maps, which would allow GPS navigation from their current location to their reporting location.
In 2014, the court enhanced the application, enabling the jury system server to receive questions in the form of text or email messages from a potential juror in “everyday language,” This is accomplished by utilizing Natural Language Processing (NLP) which evaluates meaning and provides an accurate response as a two-way conversation.
“Judge Gull has dedicated over a decade improving jury management in Allen County,” declares Paula Hannaford-Agor, Director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies. “mJuror is a tremendously unique and versatile court technology that greatly extends the usefulness to jurors. While many states and jury automation vendors have developed online interfaces, mJuror is the first to our knowledge that was specifically designed for mobile communication devices, which are now the dominant technology platform for citizens to communicate with courts.”
mJuror also hosts a variety of benefits for court staff. It gives administrators the ability to 1) adjust reporting instructions for juror; 2) send texts and/or emails to each staff in the case of court cancellations; 3) electronically receive daily statistics as to the number of jurors reporting; 4) collect satisfaction surveys via texting/email.
In addition to improving jury service for Allen County jurors, Judge Gull has also served on the Jury Management Committee of the Indiana Judicial Conference, in which she advised on the development of the statewide jury automation system, helped to implement the ABA Principles for Juries and Jury Trials, participated in judicial education programs on managing high profile and capital trials, and worked with state legislators to promote the fullest degree of public participation in jury service.
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush nominated Judge Gull for her innovative thinking. “Judge Gull’s modern approach to jury administration allows Indiana to meet its fundamental charge of fair and open courts.”
Judge Gull will receive the Munsterman Award during a ceremony at the Allen County Courthouse on November 10, 2015.