The problem of no-show jurors is an epidemic in some communities, especially large urban areas such as Miami, Houston, and Atlanta, where no-show rates routinely top 50%, says David McCord of the American Judicature Society, quoted by USA Today. Courts have tried to make jury service more attractive by increasing juror pay and offering amenities. This year Texas raised pay from $6 a day to $40, and no-show rates declined. Paula Hannaford-Agor of the Center for Jury Studies in Williamsburg, Va. says some courts have wireless Internet service in jury pool rooms.
Some courts are sanctioning no-shows. In Danville, Il., a 19-year-old woman was sentenced to 14 days in jail for failing to appear for jury duty; in Topeka, no-shows have been fined up to $100 a day; in Grand Rapids, Mi., warrants were issued recently for the arrests of 56 people who failed to go to court and explain why they couldn’t serve. In Atlanta, attorneys for Brian Nichols are raising the issue of an unrepresentative jury in his capital murder trial, set for Jan. 11. Nichols is charged with killing an Atlanta judge and three others in a 2005 courthouse rampage. Attorneys say the county’s high no-show rate for jurors – estimated at 47 percent – altered the racial composition of the grand jury pool.