2009 G.Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation

Munsterman award Info

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26th Judicial District of North Carolina

Among the specific achievements that the Center believed worthy of recognition were the 26th Judicial District’s education and outreach efforts to the local Latino population.  The brochure entitled What is Jury Service? was created to alleviate concerns of local Latino residents about jury service and to explain what to do if a resident receives a jury summons.  The brochure is available in English and Spanish and has been distributed to local schools and Latino organizations.  Local court officials have also appeared on the local Latino radio station to talk about jury service and answer listeners’ questions.  Other educational efforts directed at jurors include the Legally Speaking newsletter, the 26th Judicial District’s participation in the Juror Education Project sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation Trust, the National Public Radio Justice Talking program, and the ABA Division of Public Education, and the extensive use of the 26th Judicial District website to make information about jury service available electronically to the public.

The 26th Judicial District has also taken significant steps to make jury service accessible for all jury eligible citizens.  An ADA Coordinator works to accommodate jurors with special needs such as infrared assistive listening devices, American Sign Language interpreters, and note-takers for hearing-impaired jurors.  The court also provides onsite childcare facilities for primary caregivers of young children and a lactation room for the use of nursing mothers.  The court employs a one-day or one-trial term of service, greatly reducing the likelihood of hardship on individual jurors and distributing the burden of jury service more equitably among the jury-eligible population.  Finally, to hold jurors accountable, the 26th Judicial District established Show Cause hearings to address the problem of jurors who fail to appear for service.

The 26th Judicial District currently uses a number of innovative technologies to facilitate communication with jurors and will implement additional technologies in the near future.  The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and a web-based jury management system provide exceptional flexibility to jurors to conduct routine communication tasks such as checking on their reporting status and deferring their service date.  Planned enhancements to the system include the ability to request service reminders, look up service history, complete an juror satisfaction exit questionnaire, and print a Form 1099-MISC for jurors who donated their service fee through the Juror Fee Waiver Program.

Finally, the jury assembly room for the 26th Judicial District is a model facility, providing comfortable seating, appropriate diversions, including panoramic views of Marshall Park, a business center and wireless Internet access for jurors to stay productive while waiting, and a café area that provides access to a refrigerator, microwave, and light snacks and beverages.  Many of these amenities are provided at no cost to taxpayers by the courthouse cafeteria operator.