Juror No-Show Rate Remains “Staggeringly High”


In Providence, R.I., only 100 of the 200 potential jurors in the case of a deadly nightclub fire showed up for jury duty, says the Christian Science Monitor. At the mammoth Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, administrators are forced to send out twice as many jury summonses as necessary to draw a big enough jury pool for a busy week. Outdated juror lists, rundown jury rooms that feel like jails, and growing time pressures on potential jurors are mostly to blame. Nationally, there’s a 20 percent no-show rate, according to the American Judicature Society. In Miami, the rate is as high as 90 percent. The “no-show rate across the country is staggeringly high,” says political scientist Jeffrey Abramson, author of “We the Jury: The jury system and the ideal democracy.”

In places like Cobb County, Ga., “We don’t put up with [no-shows]. They either show up or the sheriff goes out and gets them,” says Skip Chesshire, the court administrator. In Fulton County, Ga., the stakes to find jurors are high in the death-penalty case of Brian Nichols, an African-American who stands accused of killing a white judge and three other people as he escaped the County Courthouse in 2005. “The word’s out that you can sort of not show up if you don’t want to,” says defense attorney Jack Martin, who tries cases in Fulton County. “It’s a lousy way to run a jury system.”

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1017/p03s03-usju.htm

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