Last year, Baltimore court officials sent a quarter-million summonses to potential jurors, culled from driver’s license and voting records, knowing that only a small fraction — about 27 percent — of would show up, the Baltimore Sun reports. The city has tried offering restaurant coupons, parking discounts and a “Juror Appreciation Week” to bring in more people over the years — threatening some of the worst truants with jail time — but the efforts have largely fallen flat.
They even asked for volunteers one year, until someone pointed out it was illegal. Now they’re putting their hopes into a new software system that’s supposed to make being summoned easier and more efficient. It streamlines the process, allows for online postponements and form filing, and automates a lot of the check-in procedure, which should speed things along in the mornings so trials can start on time. “I think there’s some laziness, I think there’s some cost factors” to the brush-off, said Greg Hurley of the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va. “You’re missing a day of whatever it is you’re going to be doing.”