SAN FRANCISCO—The second full week in May was established in 1998 by the California Legislature to acknowledge the important contributions of citizens who devote their time in “making the cherished Right of trial by jury a reality.” Superior courts throughout the state will celebrate Juror Appreciation Week, May 14–18.
“Serving as a juror is a fundamental obligation we all share as citizens, and being a juror is just as important as voting,” said Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. “The courthouse is where our citizens experience the judicial system first-hand and work toward one of our highest held values—that our judicial system works because of the commitment and service by our community. Join me and the branch in thanking our jurors for their service to our courts and communities.”
Advances in technology have presented both benefits and challenges in the courtroom and for jurors. In recognizing the meaningful role of jurors and providing access to fair and impartial justice, courts statewide are instructing jurors to turn off social media, as amended in the Code of Civil Procedure and Penal Code by Assembly Bill 141.
In 2009–2010, millions of Californians participated in jury service:
- Approximately 10 million people were summoned to jury service;
- Over 3 million prospective jurors were eligible and available to serve; and
- About 200,000 jurors were sworn in as trial jurors.
On average, a little more than 80 percent of prospective jurors who complete their jury service do so in one day. The Judicial Council adopted rule 2.1002 of the California Rules of Court and enacted the one-day or one-trial policy in state courts effective July 1, 1999. By May 2002, “One Day or One Trial” was in effect statewide. Since that time, an increase in the number of jurors who complete service in one day from about 66 percent in 2001 to 83 percent in 2010.
California courts are thanking jurors for their service and asking them to “Focus on the Courtroom” so that jurors will be aware that inappropriate use of social media and the internet is prohibited during a trial. Focus on the Courtroom posters are displayed in jury assembly rooms to remind jurors to turn off their social media. What jurors “tag” or “tweet” and who they “friend” could be grounds for a mistrial or reasons for appealing a trial, adding cost to tax payers for a new trial.
Ideals Made Real, a 14-minute jury service orientation video, provides an overview of the juror experience. Reaching out to jurors, the judicial branch produced a Court and Community pamphlet that provides information on dress code, court amenities, and frequently asked questions and also produced information for employers.
With this milestone, the past 15 years brought many achievements for the California courts and benefits for potential jurors and jurors, including:
- “One-day or one-trial;”
- Plain language jury instructions, in criminal and civil trials;
- A one-time deferral of service upon request; and
- Permission for jurors to ask questions and take notes during trial.
For more information, visit the California Courts website.