Saline County, Arkansas
|“Twenty-nine percent of the adult American population has served as a juror. The remaining 71 percent of Americans live with, live next to, work with, or otherwise hear about the experiences, good and bad, of those 29 percent who have lived it first hand.”
- Tom Munsterman
Director Emeritus, Center of Jury Studies
PHOTO: Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan announces the new system for notifying potential jurors when they need to report for jury service.
|Jury Service Questions Video|
New system for jury notification announced
The Saline County Circuit Clerk’s Office now offers members of jury panels a better way to stay informed about when to come to the court house for jury service.
“When I took office in January, I inherited an antiquated system that requires jurors to repeatedly call a phone number to learn if they are to come to the court house to serve. The term of service for a Saline County juror is four months. Remembering to call back so many times is one of the most difficult parts of jury service. So far this year, more than 98 percent of our trials have either settled at the last moment or have been postponed. Potential jurors who were told they might have to serve have been repeatedly told at the last minute that they will have to call back again and again,” Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan said. “When I asked why we used a system that made it so difficult for those called to serve on a jury, I was told "that's the way we've always done it."
Milligan was unwilling to accept that answer and asked is staff begin to research better ways to keep our jurors updated about when they needed to serve. The result is a new system that uses modern technology to make jury service easier.
The new system notifies jurors directly rather than requiring jurors to call in. Jurors have four choices about how they will be notified.
First, jurors can receive a voice message to their home telephone.
Second, they can receive a voice message on their cell phone.
Third, they can receive the notice in an e-mail.
Fourth, they can receive text message to their cell phone.
Jurors can be notified more than one way.
“We have had jurors who told us they want to be notified all four ways. My goal is to provide good service so they will receive notice all four ways,” Milligan said.
In early August, a power substation in Benton exploded. This cut electric power to the court house. The phone line jurors were to call was knocked out during a time when jurors were to call in to see if there was a trial the next day. There was a trial the next day and only 19 members of the jury panel came in to service. It took 18 people to select the jury.
“The new notification system will prevent such problems in the future. The new system is web-based and does not have to be activated from the court house,” Milligan said.
The old system of allowing jurors to call in will remain in place through the end of the year.
Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.