Indiana trial courts can now send text and email reminders, cancellations, and rescheduling notices to jurors. The Supreme Court’s Office of Court Technology added these enhancements to its Jury Management System, used by courts in 81 counties.
Eight counties began piloting the court-to-juror messaging feature in November 2019. Courts in Clark, Floyd, Hendricks, Howard, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Madison, and Monroe counties sent over 1,000 text messages and email notifications to nearly 20 jury panels during the pilot phase, which ended in March 2020.
While courts have remained open during the pandemic, COVID-19 temporarily halted jury trials and other non-emergency operations beginning in March 2020. As jury trials resume, trial courts are adapting to ensure a safe environment for staff, the public, case participants, and those called for jury duty. Measures may include social distancing, videoconferencing, more frequent cleaning, and now real-time communication with potential and selected jurors.
Jurors opt in for the text and email notifications by responding to a USPS mailed questionnaire sent with the summons from the court. Getting both the summons and request for information together should reassure potential jurors that they are receiving legitimate notifications from the court. Since jurors are randomly selected for jury pools, they must opt into the text or email notification feature each time they are selected into a new jury pool. Those who do not opt in to receive text and email notifications are still required to appear for jury duty.
More than 1,200 jury trials take place in Indiana each year. The Supreme Court partners with the Department of Revenue and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to annually create a comprehensive list of potential jurors. The list is made available to every county free of charge. Benefits of the JMS include randomly selecting jurors, assigning and overseeing jury panels, managing claims to pay jurors, and directly updating data to improve subsequent years’ jury lists.