A juror who took part in the conviction of John Couey in the killing of Florida girl Jessica Lunsford had sleepless nights afterwards, says the Orlando Sentinel. “There can be post-traumatic-stress syndrome simply from being on a jury,” said Mary Carol Parker of the legal-studies program at Maryville University in St. Louis. While some experts and legal officials think jurors should be offered counseling services after a disturbing trial, there are few formal programs nationwide — and none in Florida.
Public agencies in Seminole County, Fl., want to test a “jury-debriefing program” that would allow certain jurors after a trial to meet with a volunteer certified crisis responder to learn coping mechanisms before they return home. The debriefers typically describe symptoms associated with juror stress and make recommendations about appropriate stress-management techniques, says the National Center for State Courts. “It’s a way of preparing them for some of their reactions,” said Debra Wagner, who coordinates victim services for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. “It helps normalize the event for them.” In the 14-state Capital Jury Project, about 60 percent of the nearly 1,200 jurors who served on capital trials found the experience emotionally upsetting, said Wanda Foglia, a professor of law and justice studies at Rowan University in New Jersey.