Marion County courts aim to streamline jury duty system

INDIANAPOLIS - The Marion County court system is trying a new approach to improve its dismal compliance record for jury duty summons.

Of the 73 people summoned for jury duty Monday, slightly more than half reported to court. Rhonda Donahue was one of them, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.

"I know it's a lot of inconvenience for people. It is our duty for us to come down. I didn't want to come down but I did," Donahue said.

According to the Indianapolis Jury Pool Coordinators, more people are ignoring their jury duty summons.

During a two-year period in 2012 and 2013, jury pool records show that more than 27,000 Indianapolis residents failed to appear for jury duty, compared to the 22,600. So far in 2014, more people have ignored a jury summons over those who responded.

Hoosier Mike Meredith reported to duty as instructed Monday.

"I just think it's your duty as a citizen. And actually, this is the first time I've ever been called. But I was glad to do it," Meredith said.

By mid-October, the jury pool will begin using a California-based Interactive Voice Recording system that will allow prospective jurors to determine by phone if they're qualified for jury duty. The recording system can even be programmed for a reminder call the night before the prospective juror is required to report, Judge Gerald Zore said.

"They won't have to fill out the form and mail it back in. All they have to do is use the telephone to call in. So, I think it will be a lot more convenient for people," Zore said.

While jury duty may prove inconvenient for some, potential juror Deborah Strickland said it's a fundamental necessity for the administration of justice.

"I think it's a really important part of our democracy. And I know that if I ever was in a legal situation, I would want the opportunity to have a jury of my peers. So, I was glad to come in and do it for that reason," Strickland said.

As of now, prospective jurors will receive a summons by mail. Once they've registered by phone, the courts will have a record that they received a summons.

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