April 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm #177924
A few weeks ago, my colleague Steve Ressler posted a blog about his experience at jury duty and gave some reasons why it’s a great point of citizen engagement. At the end of his post he asked a question that didn’t get any responses – and it’s worthwhile to explore. Here’s what he says:
Why don’t we use jury duty waiting time better? This would be the *perfect* place to encourage citizens to sign up for city alerts, ask for input on a city project, reminders about important deadlines and notices. You have a captive audience that is thinking about government and are bored in the waiting room.
What are your ideas?
Have you seen a local government leverage this time in an effective way?
April 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm #177964
John van SantenParticipant
I think you are confusing compelled attendance with voluntary attendance – there are penalties for not showing up. Hard to imagine this is a good time to attempt to develop an interest in government.
April 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm #177962
I agree with John that this is not a no-brainer, but it may make sense to promote web apps or other public-facing items of interest. Of course, there are municipal, state and federal juries, so you may not get much vertical integration.
April 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm #177960
Andrew, be careful about over-optimizing. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Steve got overwhelming feedback. Hear it.
April 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm #177958
In my county, Walker County, Texas they have multiple non-profit organizations to which the juror can opt to donate their payment from the court to the chosen non-profit group. I am paid by my employer so I always donate my payment to one of the organizations, usually CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Abused and Neglected Children).
Maybe a slideshow presentation featuring each non-profit and showing the jurors how the money from the previous donations were used would be informative as well as feature some volunteer opportunities to the jurors offered in their community. Whatever is shown I believe it should be community awareness like special recognized days or awareness months. During domestic abuse awareness our county hangs shoes from trees each represents an abused person in our community and they also release a balloon for each child who lost their life to abuse in Texas at a special event held in front of our court house each year. Most people, if they are not driving by or attend the event (usually held on a weekday) they are unaware it took place. Next month in May there will be a city proclamation for Motorcycle Safety Awareness.
April 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm #177956
At first glance I thought like John. They aren’t a receptive audience, and many are irritated that they are there. Would their feedback be useful and objective? But with a little creativity, we might be able to turn it into a golden opportunity. In my experience, people usually appreciate it when we show that we need and want their input. Especially in contrast to being bored. I think the key is to be very selective about the topic; and make the presentation optional, interesting and appealing. Maybe a person introduces a video that gives them information about a topic/issue; and then asks what they think should be done. If they have ideas, they can put them in a comments box. (Since they maybe called into court any minute, you can’t really have a full-blown discussion or round table.) But I’d suggest taking baby steps; maybe do this once a month or quarter and see what happens.
April 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #177954
Hey John – Seems like this is the perfect time, right?
I was recently at jury duty myself and we were there, waiting for hours, and most folks were just watching a TV stuck on some daytime talk show. Fortunately, I had my laptop, but if I were given a compelling option or asked to learn about my city somehow, I would have taken it / paid attention.
April 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #177952
Do you know of anyone that does it, Kevin?
April 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm #177950
Hey Dick – I’m not sure it’s been tried! So I’d at least like to see a pilot of a concept…got ideas for what we could do with that time?
April 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm #177948
Thank you, Stacie! This is a solid example of a way to leverage that moment for the good of the community…and I like that it’s not necessarily government. You can use that moment to educate citizens about other great things going on in their community.
April 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm #177946
One of the impediments to using this opportunity is that it is controlled by the ‘courts’ not those running the other parts of the government who would be looking to engage the citizens. In my area they even have their own buildings for the local courts.
I do agree this is an opportunity that could be utilized to tap into a broad demograghic group.
April 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm #177944
Nope. But I haven’t been called for jury duty in a long time.
April 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm #177942
Agreed!! I’m with you Andrew!
April 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm #177940
Thanks for brainstorming a bit, Diana. I like where you’re going with your ideas there.
Do you think instead of TV shows being on, we could loop information about the community? Videos made by the city / county that educate people? You could loop up with the local PIO to get that kind of information – and they’d probably be glad to promo their content in another key place.
April 16, 2013 at 4:43 pm #177938
Thanks, Bill – I just posted this question in the PIOs group on LinkedIn to see if anyone has bridged that gap between courts and the other parts of government.
April 16, 2013 at 4:52 pm #177936
This time could be used in any number of ways. Why not have videos or interactives about the history of the justice system in the U.S., or about the history of the common laws and courts in general (perhaps providing context for the current U.S. system)? Frankly, they could be patriotic, pro-American, as well as simply informative. It’s about time that government mentions things that work, go right, are admirable or advantageous to the citizen — there’s already a plethora of negative (and unfortunately, outright incorrect) “information” on these topics. Why not counter the FUD with FACTS?
Who are Heroes (not just soldiers — though we probably can never thank soldiers, law enforcement, civil engineers, etc. enough!)? Who, locally and in other communities, are the “regular” folks working in the public sector who do admirable or worthy things? I think we all could use a bit of positively-phrased information.
April 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm #177934
Perhaps, as they are already in the area (City Hall, the County Seat, etc.), they could apply for other official, regulated things — maybe register with Live Scan, or get a background check performed, should they decide to purchase a gun?
High-blood pressure or other health screening? Donate blood or platelets? Help prep food for a local food bank?
Register for voting? Get additional background on current and near-term events in the legislature? Apply for public sector jobs? Participate in information-gathering polls or surveys? Take a (short, pre-approved) seminar that has been made available on the public network within the complex, so as not to unduly bias potential jurors, or compromise the security of the potential trial(s)?
@stacie Woods: Really good ideas — as long as I’m “trapped” by my obligation, I might as well find out about other causes or events in which I’d be interested.
April 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm #177932
Evidently I am in the minority but I feel that it is my civic duty to serve as a juror. Otherwise the unmotiavted/unemployed/daytime TV watchers/no good niks get to vote that he’s not guilty and she deserves a big settlement. I was last called for jury duty back in 1997. I don’t think that too frequent a call to serve my community. I went, filled out the paperwork and was dismissed because I had too much professionally in common with the accused. Evidently defense lawyers fear that when one’s professional reputation is sullied, we throw the book at our fellows. While there I read a thoughtful book. When I got off early I reported to the office, shocking my boss out of his chair. I didn’t take any payment, the government already paid me so what would have been the purpose of putting county workers through the process? If I were called today I would bring my laptop and do as much real work as possible. That’s where I make the greatest impact. I’m surprised no one mentioned this, or did I miss that imput?
April 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm #177930
When I served on jury duty a year or so ago, there were 3- to 4-minute video loops running on what we could expect during the selection process — which information was reiterated live when the court clerk came to get the crowd to go into the courtroom for the selection process. I would have enjoyed learning about upcoming County or City issues or events, other opportunities to participate in the County and City government processes, about outstanding historic and current area citizens, etc. I think the other ideas are great, too — donate blood while u wait, participate in opinion polls on local issues, register to vote, sign up to help with local charity or civic events, get a pamphlet on all the services the County and City offer for its citizens. Great ideas, everyone!! Is part of the issue “who’s going to organize all that, staff that, day in and day out”? I’m a dinosaur, but I revel in the benefits and opportunities of this electronic gadget era, let’s capitalize on that!
April 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm #177928
Simple, but true – just making sure there’s free wifi would be an easy step to ensure people remain productive and contributing to their community via their work.
April 17, 2013 at 5:17 pm #177926
Thanks for sharing this concrete example, Carol. So much content that could be shared.
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