Jury Representativeness: It’s No Joke in the State of New York

Valerie Hans, Professor of Law at Cornell, is the author or editor of six books and approximately 100 articles. Professor Hans was originally trained as a social scientist at the University of Toronto where she received her PhD in 1978. Today she conducts empirical studies of law and is one of the country’s leading authorities on the jury system. In this post, Professor Hans discusses the importance of jury representativeness and how even with some of the best practices in the country, some New York counties have a wide discrepancy between the racial makeup of their communities and the racial makeup of those who actually serve on the jury. Professor Hans also analyzes two reports that offer evidence that New York has made great strides in increasing jury representation but that the state still falls short of reflecting New York’s diverse population.

As a jury researcher, I hear a lot of jokes about how to get out of jury duty. But two recent reports from New York State’s court system indicate that who’s serving and not serving on juries is no laughing matter. Two reports, the First Annual Report Pursuant to Section 528 of the Judiciary Law and Jury Representativeness: A Demographic Study of Juror Qualification and Summoning in Monroe County, offer new evidence of the ways in which juries in the state fall short of reflecting New York’s diverse population.[1]

The Importance of Jury Representativeness

The principle that juries should be representative of the community is a sound one. Although there is no right to a petit jury that fully reflects the community, juries must be selected from a group that is a fair cross-section of the community, a principle upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as “fundamental to the American system of justice.” Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 528-30 (1975). It is fundamental for good reasons: (1) Juries that include the full range of a community’s life experiences and social, economic, and political perspectives are better at fact finding and at incorporating community values; and (2) a representative jury is more likely to be seen as a legitimate decision maker by the community.

Recognizing its importance, New York and many other states and the federal government have made tremendous strides over the last few decades in increasing the representativeness of their jury pools. In the past, New York used a permanent list from which it drew potential jurors, updated it only infrequently, allowed a large number of exemptions from jury duty, sequestered juries during deliberations – in short, raised many obstacles to full participation. New York then introduced several changes including a one-day/one trial system where trial jurors appear for one day or for the duration of one trial to lessen the burden on individuals. The state eliminated exemptions so jury service would be spread more fairly. It also adopted a system that combines information from five different lists of state residents to create its master list, which is regularly updated. All these changes – recommended as ideal practices by the American Bar Association and the National Center for State Courts – should in theory produce representative cross-sections of the community.

Even so, New York community groups and lawyers representing minority clients have complained that jury pools still fall short of reflecting a fair cross-section the community. I joined several attorneys, state court officials, and community representatives to testify about the jury representativeness issue at a Public Hearing on Jury Diversity, held by the Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary and Codes on April 30, 2009. To explore the extent of the problem, the New York legislature mandated in 2009 that prospective jurors who report for jury duty around the state be surveyed about their demographic characteristics.

The New York Reports on Jury Pool Representativeness

The new reports give us a comprehensive look, for the first time, at who serves on juries in New York State. One report is statewide; the other is an in-depth look at the different stages of jury selection in upstate Monroe County, where Rochester is located. (I served as a consultant on the Monroe County report). The reports provide some reassurance that many aspects of the system in place are working well, but also offer new evidence that specific groups of citizens are likely underrepresented.

The statewide report compared those who appeared in court and served as trial or grand jurors to available census figures for the 18+ population in all New York counties. This is not a perfect comparison, because New York State jurors must be US citizens and fluent in the English language; furthermore, those convicted of felonies who have not had their rights restored cannot serve. But it is a decent approximation, so long as we are mindful of the limitations. Statewide, there are no strong divergences between the proportions of specific racial and ethnic groups in the population and the proportions reporting for jury duty. For example, statewide, the 2010 census shows 16% identify themselves as of Hispanic origin, compared to 15% Hispanics in the jury pool. In the 2010 census, 15% identify themselves as black, as do 17% in jury pools. But the overall numbers mask some striking differences in specific jurisdictions. In Tompkins County, for example, where Cornell University is located, 83% of the census participants identify as white but 93% of the jury pool is white. In New York County, Hispanics constitute 23% of the census but 18% of the jury pool.

The counties show different patterns of representativeness. Some patterns could be due to jury-eligibility differences across racial and ethnic groups. For example, differences in English language ability or citizenship are particularly likely explanations for at least some of the apparent underrepresentation of Hispanic or Asian groups in some New York counties. But the differences warrant further examination at the county level.

The Monroe County report analyzed the different stages of jury pool selection, comparing census figures with the characteristics of people responding to qualification questionnaires and summonses, requesting excuses, and reporting to jury duty. In Monroe County, jury qualification questionnaires and jury summonses are mailed to a geographic cross‐section of the county, as intended. Gender and Hispanic ethnicity are well‐represented among those who respond. However, while the census figures estimate that blacks are about 12% of the Monroe County jury-eligible population, they constitute 9.7% of those who respond to jury qualification questionnaires, and 7.3% of those who appear for jury service. Why? Although the report cannot identify all the reasons, it shows that mailings to areas of the county with higher proportions of racial and ethnic minorities and poorer residents are more likely to be returned as undeliverable or do not produce responses. Blacks also request and are given temporary hardship excuses from serving, for example, for job or child care reasons, more frequently than members of other racial groups.

What’s Next?

Both reports confirm some apparent gaps in representation, and the Monroe County report goes further in identifying the stages in the summoning and jury service system where gaps emerge. These are important first steps, and I applaud New York for taking them, and for committing itself to making annual reports so we can gauge progress.

What should be next on the state’s agenda? Here, New York has fewer immediately obvious options than other states, because it already employs many of the best practices for jury pool selection, like following up with those who don’t respond to initial mailings, using the one day/one trial approach in most counties, and offering automatic one-time postponements.

The statewide report advocates community outreach and that is a good start. Meaningful, substantial outreach could help to identify barriers that members of underrepresented groups experience in receiving and responding to summonses and in serving as jurors. Are the qualification and summoning questionnaires clear and understandable? Are there ways to modify the conditions of jury service, by shifting trial hours, supplementing juror pay, or providing child care, to address the reasons some potential jurors ask for hardship excuses? Could sending additional mailings to zip codes with lower response rates to qualification questionnaires correct the problem of underrepresentation?

Jury service is a form of political participation. In the last few national elections, political activists have gotten creative about using insights from social science to encourage their voters to get to the polls. I would like to see some of that creativity applied to jury selection. Now that we have baseline numbers from these significant reports, New York can pilot test promising reforms and observe whether there are positive effects. Having fully representative juries will help ensure our juries benefit from diverse experiences and perspectives; their verdicts will be more legitimate. So, let’s stop joking about how to get out of jury duty and start working on how to get everyone in!

[1] For commentary about the statewide report, see Celeste Katz, New York: Your Jury May Not Look Like You, NY Daily News, Blogs, Dec. 9, 2011, http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2011/12/new-york-your-jury-may-not-look-like-you; for commentary about the Monroe County report, see James Lawrence, Unprecedented Study Pinpoints Monroe County Jury Pool’s Diversity Problem, Democrat & Chronicle, Aug. 26, 2011, http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/editorial/?p=18260.

Deprecated: file_exists(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($filename) of type string is deprecated in /home/r0bfc7luszh6/public_html/blogzine/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1616


  1. Some citizens know they’re not livestock. That the state’s obligation to provide a jury does not obligate them. That jurors’ duty is to nullify if the law is wrong.

    That any yahoo with a twenty dollar gripe gets a jury costing hundred per day, to the victims, whereas the lawyers and judges get paid hundreds per day.

  2. While I entirely agree that getting citizens to participate in juries is important, I worry that we’re treading towards dangerous territory when we try to “encourage” participation from citizens who otherwise refuse to respond to summonses. While all of the solutions mentioned in this article are awesome, I have a sneaking suspicion that some legislators may feel that the best answer to force participation (and, in effect, make summonses more like a subpoena), and that would only breed contempt for the process.

    Honestly, I think one of the best ways to make jury duty more appealing would be to simply make trials more efficient. Citizens aren’t stupid — they know that jury summonses can entail days (if not weeks) of sitting around being bored, and they understandably loathe the idea of losing that amount of time from work or play. Until citizens can be assured their time won’t be wasted, they will probably continue hiding from jury duty letters.

  3. I think this post is a great way to start the conversation about what else courts can do to improve the representativeness of the pool. I think the main issue raised by Professor Hans compels us (researchers, legislators, policy makers) to dig deeper into what the issue is for each of the jurisdictions to find out what would be the most effective response. Indeed, there is county-by-county variation in NY (as you would expect). That said, courts respond to the issues in many ways (some more effective than others). Some issues courts must address are: transportation (lack of public transportation, clear directions on how to get to the courthouse, long distances to travel for some geographically vast counties); on-call practices (asking jurors to call in after 6pm and then quickly make day care, job, life plans for the following morning, and what it really means to be “on-call”); follow-up practices (whether there is a second notice sent – the NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies has found ~50% increase with this simple approach; and undeliverable addresses may be due to delivery problems with the post office, or more likely, highly mobile citizens in which case up to date and key source lists are important.

    Difficult economic times emphasize the importance of increasing utilization rates (that is the rate at which jurors are used by the court and not left waiting in the assembly room). The NCSC has worked with many local courts with how best to improve low utilization rates. As Kirk Sigmon (previous reply post) notes, unused jurors leads to frustration. Thus, courts must work to correct this impression of jury duty so that showing up for jury duty DOES mean you will be needed for a trial and that your time is valuable.

    I would also urge us all to consider how best to use new technology to communicate more efficiently with potential jurors – e.g., a text message to alert those who they are needed, providing a lead time of ~2 hours. That is just the tip of the iceberg, but there are certainly new ways to use technology to track, inform, and call jurors. The use of technology in the courts has always lagged behind our general public, but I suggest now is the time to start exploring ways to improve the system.

  4. Though some stereotypes of juries are positive, many depict juries as naive, misguided, distracted, or altogether incompetent. While juries are a valuable part of the legal system and jurors take their roles seriously, most do not understand what jury duty entails; minorities often feel intimidated, disconnected from, and lack interest in participating in the jury system. To encourage civic participation, especially in the case of minorities and young people, we suggest using an educational approach that addresses both short term (increased jury representativeness in the near future) and long term (a more informed populace) goals.

    New York State should mandate high school students taking U.S. History to learn about the history of the American jury system, the current issues facing the jury system (including representativeness), and the benefits of having a heterogeneous jury. High school students should learn about Powers v. Ohio (1991) which established the right of an individual to serve on a jury. This could prompt a discussion about the history of excluding minorities and women on juries. Reinforcing the concept that jury duty is a civic duty and an educational experience would invigorate students to reject the stereotypes that portray the jury as lazy or unengaged. Duncan v. Louisiana (1968) which reinforces the sixth and seventh amendments of the Constitution, demonstrates the function of the jury as, “a political weapon of defense”[1] . The Rodney King case (1992) could stimulate conversation about the benefits of having a representative jury. These concepts would be reinforced by the New York State U.S. History and Government Regents Examination. The New York State Education Department would include several questions on the exam regarding the American jury system which would compel teachers to include information about the jury into their curriculum.

    According to voter registration records, young people and minorities are the least likely to register to vote. Although New York State draws upon five lists for jury summons, this subsequently affects the likelihood of these groups to receive summons for jury duty. The high school graduation rate in New York for Blacks and Hispanics are 57.7% and 53.7% respectively, compared to a 73.4% statewide graduation rate [2]. In the United States, only 25% of minorities continue on to higher education [3] . Therefore for most, high school may be the last point of formal education, making it an effective target point for educating minorities and young people about the jury system.

    In the short term (1-2 years) it can be expected that the former participants in this program will enter the jury pool with a greater knowledge and understanding of the jury system. This enhanced knowledge and understanding will yield better jurors, reducing juror absenteeism as participants will understand the value of jury service. In the long run (5-10 years) the knowledge from this program will likely be passed on not only to participants but also to the community. We expect that the community effect will help to alleviate discrepancies in survey response and service based on race and age.

    [1] http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0391_0145_ZS.html

    By: Alexis Kim, Zheshu (Emily) Xiao, Nicholas Shayler, Anne-Marie Bartels

  5. Enhancing Jury Representation Through Education

    As shown in the recent Monroe County study, young adults are underrepresented in juries. This contradicts the fundamental purpose of the jury system which is to be judged by a cross section of one’s peers. In order for states to implement a solution to increase the prevalence of young adults in the jury box, they must examine the underlying causes of the underrepresentation. Researchers believe that there is a lower sense of civic duty among more recent generations (Putnam, 2000), which may contribute to the distaste many have for jury service. In order to combat these negative views, states should require schools to incorporate jury education into the curriculum. Teaching students about the jury and making them aware of the fact that a juror’s experience is often a positive one can dispel myths they might have and encourage them to participate in the process. If states can change the negative mindset young people have of juries, then this will evolve from a temporary fix into a long-term solution as young people age into adulthood.

    We propose a brief, mandatory addition to the public-school curriculum which would begin with a presentation on the basic history and current state of the jury system, with a focus on the point of view of the jurors themselves. This lesson would make use of existing materials, as well as draw on personal juror experiences, either from individuals or media presentations. The presentation would strongly emphasize the problem with underrepresented groups in juries, particularly with young adults and minorities; addressing these disparities will create a sense of responsibility for young people and minority groups to serve when they are summoned as adults. In order to get the students actively involved, teachers would then facilitate a teen court activity. Teen courts are brief mock trials designed to educate students about the legal system and showcase the importance of jurors. This activity could highlight the difference between judgment by a single individual as opposed to a group, and the benefits of being judged by one’s peers. Teen courts also have the potential to develop into a permanent extracurricular activity. Additionally, guest speakers, such as judges, can speak to students about jury duty and the court system once or twice a year during school assemblies. Schools can also organize trips to the local courthouse to view an actual trial and learn about the legal process, which would not only shape their sense of civic duty but also motivate them to actively participate in the legal system.

    There has already been a significant effort to make the jury system more transparent and available to potential jurors, especially in New York. The existing resources for current and potential jurors could be easily integrated into a school curriculum with minimal expense. One of the biggest difficulties in attracting jurors is the negative stigma associated with serving, and by educating students early in life, a more positive connotation could be given to jury service, while at the same time promoting a better understanding of the jury system and our legal institutions.

    By: Alex Martin, Crystal Hines, Alex Newman, Abdiel Ortiz

  6. Clothes, jewelry, household machines, and America’s favorite breakfast item, cereal, are all items that people see being advertised in the media daily. Seeing an ad for jury service is not something you would expect to occur while watching television; so when called upon to participate in the court system, one might utilize the vast knowledge of the internet to see what exactly this job entails. But, using the internet to research jury duty does not necessarily sway a potential juror to want to engage in a trial. When the phrase “jury duty” is typed into the Google search engine, negative comments do not come up, but positive ones that would help someone understand the importance of serving in a jury do not come up either. According to http://www.cbpp.org, an advertisement for jury duty may fall under the “All Other” category when it comes to Federal expenditures, and it is unclear how many other expenditures have to share the 2% allocated to this section. Simply put, there is very little money spent on educating people on the importance of jury duty. To remedy this, the government can start with education. Some high schools can visit local courthouses and even participate in mock trials. Local governments can restructure their mock trial activities to include a more detailed jury deliberation so that participating students can develop more realistic expectations about jury service. Moreover, the government can sponsor commercials that do not just tell people to participate in jury duty, but shows how participation relates to their everyday lives. Some outcomes of misinformed juries can include convicting innocent citizens or letting guilty individuals go free, so people should understand that a juror’s actions greatly affect society.
    One obstacle to individuals responding to jury duty is a fear of lost compensation. One way to combat these concerns is to clarify the laws and protections available to jurors through proposed public awareness advertisements. Regarding compensation for jury members, the Federal law prohibits employers from withholding wages from employees who have jury duty. For those who believe that they will somehow lose wages as a result of jury duty, knowledge of these laws can encourage those to exercise their civic duty without the fear of losing pay.
    Another area of jury duty that needs improvement is scheduling and time constraints. Potential jurors are asked to arrive to court, on average, between the hours of 8:30am to 5:00pm varying from one day to one month or more. One recommendation we suggest is to provide on-site childcare services to remedy the issue of jurors finding childcare on short notice. This option may increase costs on behalf of the courts so a potential solution would be to give unemployed persons the option to received free childcare as opposed to monetary compensation. This would increase the representativeness on juries by allowing this subset of the population with reasonable means to perform their civic duty. These reforms should be advertised clearly, because they can greatly offset the negative view of jury duty.

    By: Ariel Brown; Raquel Smith: Arianna Bradley; Julianne Freeman

  7. Proposal to entice citizens to serve on juries

    Despite New York’s State progressive approach to jury pool selection, the Monroe County Report [1] identifies gaps in jury representativeness among African-Americans and low-income people. Communities with higher percentage of minorities and low-income individuals produce higher rates of non-response to questionnaires as well as higher rates of excusals from jury duty. Our proposal seeks to mitigate the excusals caused by financial hardships by 1) mandating employers to pay the full wages of employees summoned for jury service; 2) increasing jury pay to at least the minimum wage for unemployed jurors; 3) providing tax credit to small businesses to subsidize jurors’ salaries; and 4) educating employers and employees through public outreach programs.
    In an effort to increase juror representativeness, numerous states have begun to look into the relationship between juror fees and employer policies, excusal rates for financial hardships, and minority representations on juries [2]. A survey conducted in California unsurprisingly found that over 30% of jurors who are not compensated for jury duty by their employers earn less than $25,000 per year [3]. These individuals, who tend to be minorities, are more likely to use the financial hardship excuse or ignore jury duty summons [4] because they cannot afford to lose a day’s wage. Moreover, a study conducted in Washington State found a strong correlation between employers’ reimbursement of wages and citizen’s compliance with jury summons. Thus, a legislative mandate for employers to pay all employees their regular earnings for jury duty may increase representativeness.
    New York State currently requires employers of more than ten employees to pay the $40.00 jury fee during the first three days of service [5]. With the one day/one trial system, amending the law to require employers to pay employee’s full daily wages does not impose significant costs on businesses, compared to the annual costs of vacation and sick days [6]. Nonetheless, small businesses, which are more likely to employ low-income individuals, may be burdened by the mandate. Thus, the state should provide small businesses a tax credit contingent on the compensation of jury duty. A tax credit available to only small businesses would decrease the high fiscal cost of offering the credit to all employers [7]. Moreover, the state should continue to compensate jurors who are unemployed/self-employed, by raising their pay to the minimum wage.
    These changes in juror compensation must be combined with public outreach programs for both employers and employees. As illustrated by the inconclusive results of the Washington State Report, public awareness is necessary to enhance the impact of increased juror compensation [8]. Employers can be educated regarding the new legislation and tax credit through the Department of Labor and the NY State Juror website. Posters that explain the civic importance of jury duty and detail the new change in the law should be mandatory in the workplace. Soup kitchens [9], churches, community centers, and schools should allocate informative pamphlets to unemployed and low-income individuals.

    by Brittany, Elyssia, Han and Sofya (Group 6)

    [3]http://www.ncsconline.org/juries/cataxtep.pdf pg 6
    [4]http://www.courts.wa.gov/wsccr/docs/Juror%20Research%20Report%20Final.pdf pg 18
    [7]http://www.ncsconline.org/juries/cataxtep.pdf pg 13

  8. Renovating Representativeness: Targeting youth, low-income, and black populations in Monroe County

    Our multi-faceted proposal to increase jury representativeness includes incorporating qualification questionnaires into government documents and allowing certain convicted felons to serve on juries. Specifically, our proposal will aim to expand the percentage of youths, low-income citizens, and blacks in the jury qualified population.
    First, we suggest inserting a mandatory qualification questionnaire into a variety of citizen-completed government documents including (but not limited to) tax, unemployment, welfare, and student aid. This tactic could increase representativeness by reaching undeliverables and automatically updating the master list of qualified jurors. As a recent Monroe County demographic study reported, youth and low income citizens are vastly underrepresented; this plan may help increase the percentage of young people by incorporating the questionnaires into forms typically filled out by young adults, such as Selective Service and DMV applications for licenses and permits. Also, by requiring completion of the questionnaire in all government aid requests, this plan will target qualified low-income jurors. Similar to the Monroe County proposal of placing questionnaires at public facilities, this method has the same advantage of making the questionnaire more convenient to fill out, but the above approach is less invasive upon public facilities and would not require separate paperwork. This plan would also help reach otherwise eligible jurors who do not have a correct address on file. Hannaford-Agor documents “undeliverables” as the single largest factor contributing to decreased jury yields, and in Monroe County one out of five questionnaires are undeliverable or non-responses. This plan also assures that every person completing basic government forms will receive and fill out the questionnaire. Finally, this method facilitates an annual update of the master jury list, as recommended by the National Center for State Courts, because many government documents such as taxes, welfare, and student aid applications require annual submissions.
    Next, we propose automatically updating the jury selection pool to include felons two years after their release to increase representativeness. Minorities are heavily underrepresented on juries; in Monroe county, there are twice as many convicted blacks felons as white felons. Despite the statistical finding that increased felon involvement would not promote minority percentages on the jury, as few opt out of participation based on past felony convictions, this measure did not account for non-deliverables and non-responses. We support this reform, not only on the principle of the matter, but because of a recent finding that a disparity exists when all jurors are white. In this scenario, white jurors convict black defendants 16% more often than white defendants; however, this gap can be entirely eliminated with the presence of one black juror. Additionally, we believe that increasing felons in the jury pool may prompt increased consideration of exclusions by the prosecution and defense.
    The above suggestions could operate in tandem to promote the representativeness of the jury by advancing racial and income diversity in the pool of qualified jurors. These changes would specifically target young, low income, and black populations of the jury pool and would help decrease the amount of undeliverables and non-responders.

    –By Scott Chiusano, Amanda Klopp, Andrea Orr, and Andrew Goodman

    The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials: http://papers.ccpr.ucla.edu/papers/PWP-DUKE-2011-001/PWP-DUKE-2011-001.pdf
    Monroe County Study:
    Jury News: Hannaford-Ager: https://blackboard.cornell.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=null&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_32649_1%26url%3D

  9. New York State has a fairly successful jury selection program. For example, it uses five different lists to determine who will serve on the jury, trying to reach as much of the population as possible. Nevertheless, forming juries whose demographics represent that of the general population is still a struggle; many barriers to serving on a jury, such as losing time at work, low compensation, and lack of childcare, disproportionately affect lower-income people because they need to work more hours to make ends meet and have less disposable income to spend on childcare. As a result, juries are disproportionally white and upper-middle class, rather than being representative of society as a whole. By improving compensation for jurors, as well as establishing long-term programs to increase civic engagement and educate people about jury service, New York can create more representative juries.

    Currently, the state of New York pays jurors 40 dollars per day of “physical attendance” at the trial. There is no indication on the New York Court’s website that other compensation is offered (such as transportation compensation). The daily compensation is above average (most states compensate no more than 30 dollars per day), but other types of compensation are lacking. For example, Massachusetts mandates employers to pay jurors’ wages for the first three days of service. Numerous states also reimburse jurors’ traveling mileage and provide free parking. Understandably, it may be hard for New York to afford increased monetary compensation, but perhaps the state can compensate jurors in other ways. For example, providing on-site childcare (or a centralized juror child-care location) would allow jurors who cannot afford childcare to serve on a jury. Additionally, compensation for transportation to and from the courthouse would encourage the participation of jurors who live far away. Both of these improvements would make jury service more feasible for the low-income sector of the population.

    Both providing childcare services and reimbursing transportation costs would go a long way toward making jury service more representative; however, long-term solutions are also needed. If New York implemented more in-depth programs in schools to increase civic engagement, jury representativeness might increase. If people, regardless of demographic, understand the importance of jury service to society, they may be more willing to overcome obstacles to serve. Thirty-eight states (including New York) have civic participation programs that teach students about voting. It would be easy to incorporate jury-service education into this program. Additionally, San Diego has a program where high school students can shadow a courtroom process to understand how the process works. If New York were to implement a similar program, it could make the court system more relatable to students.

    In order to improve representativeness of juries, the courts need to provide resources to overcome financial and educational obstacles that may disproportionally discourage low-income individuals from serving. By providing transportation and childcare solutions, as well as educating its population about the importance of jury service, New York can lessen the discrepancy between the demographic of jurors and that of general population.

    By Nicole Offerdahl, He Ma, Leah Salgado, and Nadia Morris
    Five Different Lists: Registered Voters; DMV License; NYS Tax Filers; Department of Family Assistance; Department of Labor
    Compensation of New York and other states: http://www.matrixbookstore.biz/trial_jury.htm
    Civic participation: http://www.projectvote.org/images/publications/Youth%20Voting/High-School-VR-Survey-Report-Dec2010.pdf
    San Diego Youth In Court Day: http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/portal/page?_pageid=55,1641400&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

  10. Samantha Pedreiro February 29, 2012 at 4:45 am

    People dread jury duty. Consequently, they do not respond to jury questionnaires or summons. This proposal intends to increase long-term juror response rates and change negative perceptions. The program outlines a K-12 education plan which educates students on the importance of the jury system, so they are more likely to respond and participate when called. This plan provides a justification of need to increase juror responses long-term; highlights how an education program can influence attitudes of citizens; and illustrates examples for implementation.

    The majority of people who do not respond to questionnaires/summonses are under age 40. Those aged 20-39 comprised 35% of the population in 2010; however, only 36% responded to questionnaires and 31% appeared for jury duty. The groups who are least likely to respond to jury questionnaires/summons are. Targeting those under age 40 affects other underrepresented groups because they are often cross-listed (i.e. women who are under age 40). Moreover, students age 5-18, constitute the group of jurors who under 40 for the following 35 years; thus, targeting students will correct jury unresponsiveness in the long run.

    Educational Rationale
    Civic education promotes responsible citizenry, active democracy, and is most effective when practically applied. When children witness civics in action — such as visiting courthouses — they become more engaged adults because of familiarity with the system.

    Jurors are more likely to respond to questionnaires/summons if they are personally committed to civic duty. In Monroe County, the 40% who did not respond to summonses had no history with the system, and thus, no commitment to the process. Perhaps, if jurors were informed about the experience earlier, they would have a better understanding of what is expected, embrace civic responsibilities, and feel compelled to serve.

    Lastly, schools capture diverse populations. Since students of all backgrounds must attend school, this plan will reach sub-populations that are otherwise difficult to reach. Focusing on students could improve fair representation on juries, because school populations often reflect general populations that are eligible to serve.

    The Program:
    This program will provide a comprehensive jury education. This program holistically infuses K-12 education with information about the court system. The plan incorporates: curriculum, field trips, guest speakers and entertainment/popular culture. Example:

    ○ Development of trial by jury
    ○ Trial system in other countries; debate benefits/drawbacks of different systems
    ○ Iconic jury trials (i.e. Scottsboro Boys, OJ Simpson)
    ○ Credit for participating in Mock Trial/Youth Court
    Field Trips: tour local courthouse; observe trials; shadow legal professionals
    Guest Speakers: judges, lawyers, jurors, politicians
    Entertainment: popular culture references (i.e. cartoons, movies); discuss jury’s portrayal

    The program targets K-12 students in order to change stereotypical views of jury duty and increase juror response rate in the long run. Stressing the importance of juries throughout a student’s entire education will ultimately create adults who engaged in civic responsibilities and will embrace jury participation.

    Jury Representativeness: A Demographic Study of Juror Qualification and Summoning in Monroe County, New York. Rep. Office of Court Research, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

    Horton, Myles, Brenda Bell, John Gaventa, and John Marshall Peters. We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1990. Print.

    Losh, Susan, Adina Wasserman, and Michael Wasserman. “‘Reluctant Jurors:’ What Summons Responses Reveal about Jury Duty Attitudes.” Judicature 83.6 (2000): 304-10. 2000. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

  11. Christa Nianiatus, Nick Krislov, Karina Parikh, Melina Zhou February 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    There is a blatant contradiction in how the American jury system is construed by society. Though 75% of people would prefer a jury trial to a judge as we learned in class on January 31st, Monroe County has an 8% non-response rate to questionnaires and only 35% of those deemed eligible by questionnaires actually served on grand juries. It may well be that the public’s reluctance to serve suggests that citizens do not actively believe in their own participation, an apprehension that is commonly felt by potential jurors. In order for citizens to feel confident about taking on their civic duty and increase their questionnaire response rate, it is crucial to raise awareness of the implications and importance of the jury system for them early on. By creating mock trial and mock jury programs in public schools, children and young people will be able experience a societal environment that regards jury duty as an opportunity for political participation, not an inconvenience.

    Though the Seventh Judicial District – Juror Outreach Action Plan proposes that posters will be posted in high schools and community colleges to raise awareness of the jury system , the idea of implementing mock trials into the basic curriculum of grade schools will most efficiently augment laypeople’s opinions of our legal system. Not only will the young be educated in many facets of the legal system, but the early establishment of positive perspectives will certainly promote the jury system’s prosperity. Such has been proven with young voter programs. In fact, one study shows that after participating in mock elections, 56% of students believed that they actually understood how elections work compared to 45% prior to their participation in these programs . The same goal can be applied for jury service. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois offers an active Mock Trial program that allows children as young as elementary school students to get acquainted with the law . By placing familiar stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears in a legal context, the Mock Trial program weaves the legal system in children’s lives and allows children to connect the law with their own voices.

    With their children actively participating in these programs, parents will also learn that jury duty is not only fulfilling, but also less intimidating than they think. With 95% of jury trials take place in America alone, it is important to show the general population that jury duty is indeed doable process that is integral to every layperson’s life, a realization that will certainly influence many to respond summons and questionnaires.

    What is more, the costs of the programs are relatively small compared to other forms of community outreach. There are many online resources that teachers can use such as sample cases and discussion topics, like those available on Lake County’s website, requiring only time and participation from the teacher and students. Further, the skills of public speaking, fact -finding, and persuasive writing are crucial skills that are applicable to many different arenas of study.

    Implementing mock trial and jury programs in public schools will provide a comprehensive and hands-on education of the jury system early on, quelling people’s intimidation and reluctance to respond to questionnaires.

  12. As research indicates, when people are offered monetary payment for performing a service, they contemplate whether that service is accurately represented by the dollar amount that they will earn. As jurors are compensated financially for their services, Monroe County must ensure that jurors consider their compensation adequate in order to increase jury participation and maximize representativeness. [1]

    Adequate compensation on behalf of Monroe County, made possible by collaboration with employers, should increase participation, as more citizens will be able to forgo daily work commitments. Massachusetts already does this, as it requires employers to cover all wages and salaries for the first three days of an employee’s jury service. However, 95% of all Massachusetts jurors complete their service within this three-day time frame.[2] Similarly, Connecticut requires employers to cover the first five days of jury service by using sick leave days to account for the costs.[3]

    While other states ask employers to carry some costs, statistics suggest that Monroe County should require employers to cover all compensation expenses. Currently, 87% of employers in the US voluntarily compensate jurors for their jury service.[4] Because trials averaged between 3 and 10 days in New York State in 2011, the suggested complete coverage would be almost identical in cost to a three or five-day compensation guarantee.[5] Compulsory employer salary protection could improve jury representativeness with respect to jurors of the lowest income bracket, in which only 33% of workers have employer salary protection.[6] To give a real world scenario, a juror earning minimum wage in New York can expect to lose $18 per day of jury service, an astounding 30.1% of their daily income. Jurors may deem this loss unbearable, decreasing their likelihood of responding to a jury summons.

    The cost of parking must also be considered. Every day that a juror reports for jury duty in Monroe County, the first thing they must do is pay for parking, an action that affirms the stereotypical perception of jury duty as a financial burden. Currently, the county juror’s website acknowledges this problem without providing a solution.[7] Nevertheless, two of the six parking lots surrounding the courthouse are publicly owned, so it is easily resolved. Monroe County should reimburse jurors for parking fees, as the Western District of New York does, or provide bus passes for jurors who use the park and ride.[8] The nominal costs of this initiative will be outweighed by the benefits that accompany having jurors who feel appropriately valued.

    Our approach, requiring employer salary protection and providing compensation for parking, will increase jury representativeness by encouraging jurors of all income levels to serve. Monroe County currently places no financial burden on the employer and, as a result, is forced to insufficiently compensate its jurors and deny parking accommodations. In conclusion, in order to encourage maximum representativeness of a jury, Monroe County must ensure that jurors see their service not as a deduction from their bank account, but as an opportunity to serve the community.

    By: Bob Belden, Kayla DeLeon, Gabriela Mauch, and David Katz

  13. Among the exhaustive list of proposed initiatives from Monroe County’s Juror Outreach Plan, indoctrinating jury service education into public schools stands to increase long-term juror participation (Juror Outreach Plan, 2012). NY must target all citizens and fundamentally change their awareness of the jury system in order to encourage conscientious fulfillment of civic responsibility. This task will be accomplished by introducing topics about jury duty and the importance of the jury system into school curricula.

    Although the outreach plan advocates the inclusion of jury duty information into high school curricula, it is more apt to start at a younger age. Youth, ages 10-14, tend to hold very ambivalent, and therefore malleable, opinions about the legal and judicial systems. One study cites that three out of four adolescents report that “knowing what is against the law keeps them from committing crimes,” demonstrating the inherent value of learning about the law (McDevitt, Kiousis, Wu, Losch, & Ripley, 2003). Just as middle schools students internalize what they should not do as citizens, they would also embrace ideas about the duties of citizenship from lessons about the jury system, thereby making them more likely to respond to jury questionnaires. Beginning this program early allows for all students to be positively impacted from the curriculum, regardless of how long they stay in school.

    Additionally, the education of young students has the potential to increase dialogue with parents about the jury system and jury duty. Research on the effects of Kids Voting, an interactive civics curriculum taught during election campaigns, suggests that the effects may extend beyond students. In fact, children may encourage their parents to be more conscientious in responding to questionnaires and summons. In what can be termed “civic bonding,” children learn about civics at school, and go home and discuss it with their parents. In turn, parents are more likely to express themselves politically, which cultivates civic activism in their children.

    In middle school, teachers should integrate into their social studies curriculum lessons about the right to trial by jury, how the jury system works, and the importance of a diverse jury pool. Vocabulary lessons, literature, cartoons and examples from current events are all viable mechanisms. Teachers can also plan field trips, to a local court house, for example, to further foster enthusiasm and understanding for jury participation. (McEvoy, 1997; Engelhardt & Steinbrink, 2001). At the high school level, in which students are approaching the age at which they could be summoned, teachers should introduce the NYS Juror Handbook and have students practice filling out qualifications questionnaires (Trial Juror’s Handbook). These measures will ensure that students feel competent to serve, yielding a greater response rate for juror mailings.

    The educational strategy may not immediately increase the response rate to NYS juror mailings, but in the long run it is the most sustainable approach. This plan may not reach all citizens, specifically those without children in the school system, but if implemented effectively, it can serve as a model for other states to encourage juror mailing response nationwide.

    By: Jaime Freilich, William McGee, Kate Perkins, & Deanna Ping


    Engelhardt, L..T. & Steinbrink, J.E. (2001). Teaching students about their civic obligation – jury duty. Social Studies, 92.

    “Juror Outreach Plan.” New York Seventh Judicial District. 2012.

    Larimer, Sarah. “Bam! Pop! D.C. Judge uses comics to teach kids about Jury Duty.” May, 6 2011. http://www.tbd.com/articles/2011/05/bam-pop-d-c-judge-uses-comics-to-teach-kids-about-jury-duty-60181.html

    McEvoy, D.S.A. (1997). A jury demonstration, Journal of Legal Studies Education, 15, 301-306. doi: 18.1111/j.1744-1722. 1997.tb00078.x

    McDevitt, M., Kiousis, S., Wu, X., Losch, M., & Ripley, T. (2003). The civic bonding of school and family: how kids voting students enliven the domestic sphere. Working Paper 07.

    “Trial Juror’s Handbook.” New York State Unified Court System.

  14. The American jury system is in a state of crisis. The courts have taken various approaches to enhance jury qualification response rates from all segments of the community to create representative juries, including many punitive methods . We introduce here a new method to boost participation in jury service, adapted from techniques that social scientists have used successfully to increase participation in activities such as reusing hotel towels , saving energy and paying taxes . Recognizing severe financial and human resource constraints, we propose to establish a community-ambassador program involving adult jury-enthusiasts and schoolchildren that would require initial start-up costs, but should be self-sustainable without much additional investment.
    Word-of-mouth publicity sells itself. We can capitalize on the positive experiences that previous jurors have had and invite them to be adult ambassadors to serve as community outreach and education representatives. (This would be particularly suited for retirees looking for new ways to give back to the community.) Research indicates that people are most persuaded by social norms already practiced by those similar to them; ambassadors’ positive jury experiences support the notion that jury duty is in fact valuable and stimulating, not painful and boring . This would be particularly effective as the ambassadors come from the same community as summoned jurors; ambassadors have “localized” and relevant experiences that encourage others to imitate their behavior .
    The key to revamping public opinion on jury duty is to engage future generations. We look to train adult ambassadors to visit local schools and bring schoolchildren into the program. Elementary and middle school-aged students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds could be educated about the jury system, hear ambassadors’ positive stories, visit courtrooms, interact with relevant court officials, and possibly watch a trial. Other activities could include mock juries, art projects that can be displayed at the courthouse, or letter-writing to potential jurors. Because research shows “turn out increases marginally when civic duty is primed and dramatically when social pressure is applied,” youth ambassadors with positive and accurate information about jury service can encourage friends, family, and their communities to participate when summoned . It is essential to start cultivating positive impressions of the jury at a young age, especially in the demographic that is most underrepresented.
    People are motivated to conform to their social groups. Thus, citizens who recognize jury duty as a normative good will feel compelled to respond to their summons . Engaging younger generations and different social strata perpetuates a longer-lasting, intergenerational commitment to promoting a positive image of jury duty. Forming personal connections and deeper community ties are pivotal in restructuring the public opinion of the jury system. We look to reduce negative perspectives on jury duty with the help of these local ambassadors and to build new generations of engaged Americans, ready to serve on tomorrow’s juries.

  15. John Keats wrote “nothing becomes real till it is experienced.” In the legal system, the proclamations extolling the importance of jury duty typically fall on deaf ears. There is an abysmal ignorance of the legal system in society. In Reluctant Jurors, the authors note “[j]ury duty is unfamiliar territory for most.” Youths are taught about the right to vote, while minimal information is provided about jury duty. Youths, particularly minorities, often underestimate the importance of reporting for jury duty and question their fitness to serve. One African-American boy remarked “ [jury duty] it’s not for me.”1 Studies confirm minorities and young adults have low response rates to questionnaires and summons. To improve youth participation in jury duty, students should be required to participate in a mock trial in high school; for the true value of serving on a jury only becomes real after experiencing it.
    States should require high school students to participate in a mock trial in their civics class. Schools can reach out to practicing attorneys or students on mock trial teams to help with this class. Over the span of three days, the students will experience what it is like to be selected for a jury, what a trial looks like in practice, and what it is like to deliberate and come to a verdict. In addition, as part of the course, students are instructed about the importance of the jury and the how the system works. Following the trial, the class shall discuss the entire process. This experience provides students with invaluable insight into the jury system.
    Research shows experience is indeed the best civics teacher. In the Daily Record, Judge Doran commented that former jurors find serving to be very educational. A mock trial preemptively imparts valuable information and teaches the importance of participating. It demonstrates both trial procedures and how the diverse perspectives of jurors create provocative deliberations. As a result, the experience boosts the students’ confidence regarding civic engagement. According to Rose et Al., “citizens who participate on even one jury tend to [have] more favorable impressions of the legal system.” By forming a early, favorable impression of the legal system, students will be more likely to respond to a jury summons. Since the trial is mandatory for all students, it will also foster a favorable impression among young minorities and inspire greater participation from underrepresented groups.
    Although a mock trial will increase participation, there are feasibility issues. Schools already struggle to cover state testing material; a mock trial would take up three days of lessons. Furthermore, it is possible that students will not internalize the lesson.
    Despite the potential drawbacks, experience remains one of the most persuasive tool to promote civic engagement. Having students participate in a mock trial gives them a personal experience of serving on a jury. This strategy provides a civic education for many students who would otherwise miss the opportunity. Ultimately, it will prime students to be more engaged overall. Ideally, students will learn today and continue serving tomorrow.

  16. Engaging Jurors in the 21st Century
    Geoffrey Block, Patrick Nowak, Sydney Reade, Zachary Siegel
    There are more than 80,000 jury trials in this country every year with nearly a million Americans empaneled to serve.1 More than five times that number take time out of their busy schedules to show up to their local courthouse after receiving a summons.2 Few activities in the life of the typical American offer this kind of active participation in our system of government. Yet a serous stigma exists regarding jury service. After understanding the power incentives have in encouraging civic behavior, we will explore two effective solutions to the problem of engaging potential jurors.
    Individuals tend to conform to widely known and recognized norms in order to be accepted by society. When the State of California investigated why people conserved energy, the most significant influence was whether individuals felt it was the norm for all citizens to act in environmentally friendly ways.3 When the State of Michigan sent mailings to potential jurors stating that citizen’s voting record (whether they had voted or not) would become public information, there was an 8.1% increase in voter turnout as citizens wanted to act in line with the civic norm.4
    Rewards can be used to encourage civic duty. Taiwan recently started an initiative where dog owners who disposed of their dog’s waste in a particular location were entered into a lottery with a grand prize of $2,000. This halved the amount of pollution from dogs during the promotion.5 Potential rewards can be leveraged to encourage civic behavior.
    In designing solutions to encourage juror participation, we want to simultaneously incentivize juror service through potential rewards while creating and publicizing the idea that serving as a juror is a social norm. We propose developing a gamification platform that will engage citizens through social media sites. Gamification is the use of game-­‐thinking and game mechanics in a non-­‐game context in order to engage users.6 This gamification platform should encompass not only jury duty, but other civic acts such as voting and recycling. When citizens perform civic acts, they will be rewarded through various points and badges. Badges, which can be displayed on social media sites like Facebook, and leader boards showing who in the community is consistently engaging in civic acts, will encourage
    1 Roberts, Grey. “Justice Through Juries.” ABA Journal. 91.1 (2005): n. page. Print.
    2 Ibid.
    3 Nolan, Jessica, Wesley Schultz, Noah Goldstein, and Vladas Griskevicius . ” Normative Social Influence Is Underdetected .” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. (2008): n. page.
    4 Gerber, Alan, Donald Green, and Christopher Larimer. “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Largescale Field Experiment .” American Political Science Review. (2008): n. page. Print.
    5 Thaler, Richard. “Making Good Citizenship Fun.” New York Times 13 02 2012, n. pag. Print. 6 ^ Zichermann, Gabe; Cunningham, Christopher (August 2011). “Introduction”. Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps (1st ed.).
    others to act in a similar way. Lotteries will be created where citizens can trade in their points for the change to win a variety of prizes. This system will engage citizens through both incentives and social norming and will help engage young potential jurors who are often underrepresented.
    Social norms must be promoted both online and in person. We recommend granting a tax break to local businesses that display banners promoting juror duty. When individuals see signs at their favorite stores explaining that the vast majority of citizens respond to juror summons, non-­‐conforming citizens will be encouraged to become engaged with the juror process for fear of not being accepted by society. Our proposed combination of incentives and social norming will encourage more frequent and more genuine engagement with the jury process.

  17. The jury is an essential feature of the American judicial system, however, Americans have developed a negative attitude towards being summoned to serve. The first problem to tackle in order to remedy and restore confidence in the system is to increase the number of participants in our jury system. To achieve participation from jurors from all types of backgrounds, we propose a mail-out advertisement based on positive reinforcement, which drives social norms.
    Firstly, our advertisement utilizes positive reinforcement to increase jury participation through the use of cash rewards or coupon books in order to present civic engagement as a fun activity. Research has shown negative reinforcement techniques, such as charging fines, can increase the frequency of an undesired behavior. Therefore, in respect to the jury system, fines will actually decrease participation because they will encourage jurors not to respond to the juror questionnaire or serve on jury duty. This is illustrated by the fact that in 2008 the percentage of tax fraud increased after the IRS publicized that large numbers of people were falsifying their returns. The IRS established the unwanted behavior as acceptable so long as one pays the “price.” Also, publicizing tax fraud normalized it, leading to an increase in the behavior. By imposing a fine it is implied that this behavior is prevalent enough to warrant such a penalty. A reward is more likely to motivate jury participation, as opposed to a fine, because a reward makes jury duty sound more like an activity than a chore. Therefore, it is important to emphasize positive reinforcement in order to increase the response rate to jury summons.
    Secondly, our advertisement “localizes” information to target individuals and specific communities. When people provide clear signals about appropriate conduct, others are more likely to internalize that behavior as a social norm and copy it more readily. For example, according to a hotel towel study, guests are more likely to reuse their towels if they are told that the guests who had stayed in their room previously had reused their towels. To achieve the same outcome with jury service, people should be informed of the jury participation of their community members. Telling citizens that most of their neighbors have already served on a jury will both localize the issue of jury participation and create a social norm of jury service. Ultimately, citizens will feel pressure from their community members to conform to this social norm, increasing jury participation.
    Encouraging the public into jury duty requires a multi-faceted approach. Thus far, the use of fines and other means of negative reinforcement have been the primary tools used to increase jury participation and diversity. Our proposed advertisement relies on positive reinforcement combined with social norms. In this way, citizens are more likely to better understand the societal benefits of jury service and are more likely to respond to jury summons.

    1. Thaler, Richard H. “Making Good Citizenship Fun.” The New York Times . http://www.NYTimes.com, 13 Feb. 2013, 2.

    2. Martin, Steve. “98% of HBR Readers Love This Article .” Harvard Business Review . HBR.org , 18 Sept. 2012, 3.

    3. Gneezy and Rustichini. “A Fine is Just a Price” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1, January 2000

    4. Gerber, Alan S., Donald P. Green, and Christopher W. Larimer. “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review 102.1 (2008),33.

    5. Goldstein , Noah J., Robert B. Cialdini, and Vladas Griskevicius. “A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels.”Journal of Consumer Research 35 (2008): 476.

    6. Schultz, Wesley P., Jessica M. Nolan, Robert B. Cialdini, Noah J. Goldstein, Vladas Griskevicius. “The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms .”Psychological Science 18.5 (2007), 429.

  18. Kelsey Mollura March 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Sweetening the Deal: How Candy and Other Methods Increase Juror Participation

    How would you feel if your fate rested on the judgment of one person? Without a jury system, this is a real possibility. To ensure that jury service remains a valued civic right rather than an unappreciated obligation, we formulated a three-step strategy to encourage citizens to respond to jury summons. Our proposal involves providing candy with the juror questionnaire, adding questions about transportation and availability, and sending a special reminder postcard to non-responsive citizens.

    By sweetening the jury qualification questionnaire with candy, we integrate the principle of reciprocity. According to this principle, we feel obligated to repay those who have given us something. Consider, for example, the Hare Krishna Society which gave “gifts,” such as flowers to passing pedestrians. After accepting the gift, people were more likely to donate to the society, leading to a significant increase in donations. Similarly, we seek to increase response rates by giving our questionnaire recipients candy; after receiving a sweet treat, they will be more inclined to respond in kind. Additionally, the foot-in-the-door concept establishes that once citizens agree to the small request of completing the questionnaire, they are more likely to agree to the larger request of responding to jury summons.

    In addition to providing candy, we add two questions to the qualification questionnaire. First, potential jurors are asked to indicate how they would get to the courthouse. By having them personally write this information down, we increase the likelihood of a positive response to jury service when they are summoned. This was inspired by studies that increased appointment attendance in doctors’ offices by having patients fill out their own appointment card. Additionally, the questionnaire asks citizens to indicate when they are unable to serve. Framing of questions strongly influences answers; by asking when they cannot serve as opposed to when they can, we have created a default answer of juror availability. This concept is validated by studies on opt-out and opt-in programs like organ donation, showing that people are more likely to register as donors in opt-out programs where they must actively “opt out” as it takes more effort. By asking prospective jurors to record when they are unavailable, the default answer is to write nothing, indicating total availability. Even if they respond with limited availability, they have still implicitly stated they can serve at alternate times.

    Lastly, we will send a postcard reminding non-responsive citizens to fill out the questionnaire, utilizing social norms to encourage a response. Schultz found that the power of social norms is greater when the norms are more specific to the person in question , so we hope to make the message effectively resonate by including statistics for the individual’s neighborhood as opposed to their state.

    By taking advantage of the psychological principles of reciprocity, written commitment, framing and social norms, our proposal will increase participation in the jury system. Because we understand the underlying nature of our prospective jurors, so we can make small changes to existing strategies and see significant results.

  19. Rachel Blady, Caroline Emberton, Shea Hasenauer, Jessica Reif March 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    The right to a trial by jury is enshrined in the United States Constitution as well as every state constitution. Unfortunately, the institution is in decline due to a lack of participation on the part of potential jurors. We propose three reforms to address this issue and encourage citizen involvement in the jury system.

    One of the first problems in engaging all potential jurors is the frequency of undeliverable mail. Currently, 13-15% of all questionnaires and summonses are returned to the post office as undeliverable – this percentage is even greater in low-income communities where people move frequently. We suggest creating a program to incentivize citizens to notify the Postal Service and court system when they move, so the court can update its records. Upon notification, the Postal Service will send 12 free stamps to the citizen’s new address. This reward will encourage people to keep their address and court system records up to date, and enable the Post Office to send them summonses.

    Second, we must change social norms in order to encourage people to (1) respond to the jury questionnaire and (2) show up to the courthouse when summoned. An extensive body of research indicates that provincial norms make individuals more likely to follow the behavior exhibited by those in their environment. Using powerful statistics we can convince reluctant citizens of two injunctive norms practiced by friends and neighbors: that they fill out the questionnaires, and appear in court when summoned. By sending a “Report Card” comparing citizens’ completion of the survey with their neighbors’, we can exert positive peer pressure on those who have not complied. Furthermore, a jury summons including local data should show that individuals in their neighborhood appear in court when summoned. This will encourage people to jump on the bandwagon and fulfill their civic duty!

    Finally, we must address the biggest obstacle: changing public perception of jury duty. U.S. citizens often regard jury duty as a dreaded experience that they should try their best to avoid. If the court gives people positive incentives, they will be excited to receive their summons. We recommend offering a small American flag to everyone who appears at the courthouse when summoned. This will reward citizens for taking part in a fundamental American process. We also recommend outreach to local high school seniors who have just turned 18 and are eligible to serve on a jury. Jury commissioners should show a motivational video featuring young and enthusiastic jurors. The video should explain the jury system and how young citizens can make a difference. High schoolers who see this video may also encourage the adults in their lives to participate in the jury system.

    Only one quarter of Americans are lucky enough to be selected to serve on a jury – every citizen should yearn for this honor. However, until we correct the undeliverable mail problem, reveal the social norm of compliance, and change the image of the jury, the system will continue to fail to reach all segments of society.

    Works Cited

    Gerber, Alan S, Donald P. Green, and Christopher Larimer. “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review. 102.1 (2008). Print.

    Goldstein, Noah J, Robert B Cialdini, and Vladas Griskevicius. “A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels.” Journal of Consumer Research. 35.3 (2008): 472-482.

    Perreaud, Charles. Class Lecture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, February 21, 2013.

    Schultz, P W, J M. Nolan, R B. Cialdini, N J. Goldstein, and V Griskevicius. “The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms.” Psychological Science. 18.5 (2007): 429-434.

    Thaler, Richard. “Making Good Citizenship Fun”. New York Times, Feb 13, 2012

  20. Amy Dreisiger March 6, 2013 at 4:50 am

    The jury system is an integral cornerstone of the American court system and society. It is imperative that citizens appear for jury service to ensure that juries represent a fair cross-section of society. A two-pronged approach will effectively nudge Americans to participate on juries. This approach includes nudging through use of encouragement (positive nudge), and targeting future generations for education regarding the importance of jury duty (posterity nudge).
    The first participation encouragement tool is to place lists of citizens in the community who did not answer their jury summons in jury qualification questionnaire envelopes. The effectiveness of social pressure as an encouragement tool is demonstrated by the fact that in a study where an individual’s neighbors and members of their household would receive the result of their voting behavior, there was an 8.1 percentage-point increase in voter turnout.1 Additionally, statistics should be included with the qualification questionnaire that illustrate what percentage of the community responds to the questionnaire and appears for jury duty. Using descriptive norms by demonstrating that others in the community are participating can “induce conformity to the communicated behavior” of jury participation.2 Also, communities should instate a “Juror Appreciation Month.” During this month, courts can utilize resources to produce a campaign to increase jury service. They can provide incentives to those who serve on juries such as free buttons, newspapers, certificates, or coupons for free food. Communities can also run television ads in which celebrities promote the importance of jury service. Lastly, offering services such as parking permits, bus passes, and childcare will minimize costs for social groups who face economic hardship that precludes them from serving.
    The second portion of this approach is the “posterity nudge,” through which future generations of young Americans are targeted to instill the importance of jury service. This campaign involves aiming efforts at high school students during assemblies to spread knowledge of the critical nature of jury service participation as an adult. This engrains the belief that jury service is an interesting learning experience in which all Americans must participate upon entering adulthood. Additionally, high schools should encourage the use of jury systems in deciding cases of violations of school policy. By creating a jury of students, faculty, and staff, the school can provide a practical education about juries while emphasizing the importance of fair cross-section representation on juries and indicate to students that their service is needed in the school and society. The critical need for student outreach is demonstrated by the fact that students exposed to civic education are ”23% more likely to believe they are responsible for improving society and 14% more likely to vote” than others.3 Hopefully, this civic engagement will extend to jury service.
    This two-tiered approach involves various strategies and targets Americans of all demographic groups to participate on juries. Through behavioral strategies to encourage jury participation and building a strong foundation for the importance of jury service for young Americans, the future of the American jury system will remain secure.

    1 Alan Gerber, Donald Green, Christopher Larimer, “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment,” American Political Science Review 102 (February 2008): 38.
    2 Jessica Nolan, P. Schultz, Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, Vladas Griskevicius, “Normative Social Influence is Underdetected,” Society for Personality and Social Psychology 34 (July 2008): 913.
    3 Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, National Conference of State Legislatures 2003 Survey, http://www.discoveringjustice.org/?p=about_whyciviceducation, February 27 2013.

Comments are closed.