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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Encouraging Trend on Jury Duty

Russell Contreras at Axios:
Driving the news: Jury consultant Jason Bloom tells Axios that, historically, as many as one in four U.S. adults who are called for jury duty seek to be excused, citing hardships. But now, that number has shrunk to around only 5%-10%, he says.

Why it matters: There's a clear upside to enhanced civic engagement, but former prosecutors warn that it's as essential as ever to make sure that potential jurors are fair and don't come into cases with agendas.

The big picture: The projected jump in participation follows the killing of George Floyd; the trial, conviction and 22.5-year sentence of former police officer Derek Chauvin; and record voter turnout in 2020.
  • During Chauvin jury selections earlier this year, a surprising number of Hennepin County residents in Minnesota were OK with serving, and a few were been flat out excited, as Nick Halter, the author of Axios Twin Cities, reports.
  • One prospective juror said she voted in the November election because she wanted to become eligible for jury duty and called the process "fascinating." Another potential juror even said he was willing to delay his wedding to serve on the jury.
Courts are also facing case backlogs as they reopen following pandemic shutdowns.

What they're saying: “There are many ways to impact our communities," District of Columbia Attorney General and National Association of Attorneys General president Karl Racine tells Axios. "A critical piece of civic engagement is serving on a jury and I hope this means more people will answer that call to service."