Texas’ absent jurors (Leaks blog)

Via Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Submitted by Nicole C. Brambila on July 11, 2014 – 12:42pm

Many Texans are called. Few actually show up for jury duty.

That’s according to a study by the legal watchdogs, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, which found that as many as 80 percent of those summoned for jury duty are no shows.

Public information requests were sent to 13 counties – Bexar, Dallas, Travis and Harris among them – for data for the last four-years from 2010 to 2013. Ten counties responded.

The group did not request juror information for Lubbock.

Among the report’s findings:

• Dallas County had had the worst no-show rate at about 85 percent. Roughly 15 percent of those summoned to jury duty in Dallas county appeared for court.

• Cameron County, where Brownsville is the county seat, had the best participation rate with 70 percent of prospective jurors showing up.

• Most of the cities queried had participation rates of between 24 percent and 32 percent.

• Zip Codes influenced participation rates with higher response rates among wealthier neighborhoods.

“Our justice system doesn’t work without people to serve on a jury,” Jennifer Harris of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas, said in a statement.

“We need more Texans to follow the Governor’s lead and respond to the call to serve.”

Click here to read the full report.

Of course, I’m interested in the Lubbock County numbers. So, on Wednesday I put in a request for information with the Lubbock County district clerk. Donna Clarke, an assistant criminal district attorney, said it could be a couple of weeks before the Avalanche-Journal gets a response.

In the meantime, Gov. Rick Perry, realizing the importance of jury service no doubt, has declared July Juror Appreciation Month in Texas.

In Perry’s proclamation, he said, “The right to a trial by a jury of our peers is a critical part of our justice system. Unfortunately, many undervalue that right and shirk responsibility when they are called to jury service.

“Because plaintiffs, defendants and our communities as a whole all have a vested interest in fair, impartial justice, it is imperative that every citizen priorities jury service and thoughtfully, respectfully serves when called.”