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New Campaign Aims To Encourage You To Serve Jury Duty

jury duty tarc bus
Administrative Office of the Courts

A new campaign has been launched by the Kentucky state court system to encourage people to fulfill their obligation to participate in jury service.

The effort is funded by a grant from the Louisville Bar Foundation. It includes online videos about how jury service works and advertisements on TARC buses.

The buses are displaying a mix of three advertisements with a shared message of “Jury Service Starts With You,” according to a news release from Administrative Office of the Courts.

In Jefferson County last year, less than half of the 34,000 people picked at random for jury duty responded to their summons.

Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Denise Clayton said she hopes the effort will yield higher response numbers.

“The whole jury awareness campaign is to help people not forget that they’ve been summoned to jury duty, to explain what to expect and encourage people to serve,” said Clayton.

Under Kentucky law, people selected for jury duty are required to respond to the summons or face the possibility of having to explain to the court why they failed to do so.

Clayton said juror response rates vary from session to session, but are consistently low. In all Jefferson County courts last year, the rate was about 44 percent.

Clayton said officials don’t have a breakdown in the numbers related to race or socioeconomic status, but a 2007 study by the Racial Fairness Commission found no significant pockets of low responses in Louisville.

“We found that individuals that didn’t show were sort of across the board," she said. "It was not highlighted to one geographic area.”

The issue of low juror response rates and enthusiasm is not specific to Jefferson County or Kentucky. Other states, including California, Indiana, and Ohio have experienced similar problems, according to a news release from the AOC.

The educational videos on jury duty can be found at the Kentucky Court of Justice website.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.