Prospective jurors will soon have the option to communicate with the court via email.
The Pettis County Circuit Court is in the process of implementing the new Show-Me Jury system and will be mailing new Show-Me Jury questionnaire letters later this month for the next jury service term beginning in January, according to a Pettis County press release.
Pettis County Circuit Clerk Susan Sadler told the Democrat the new system is being implemented statewide and the old system of sending out the questionnaire and having prospective jurors fill them out and mail them back was “probably becoming obsolete.” The new system will allow prospective jurors to fill out the questionnaire online instead of filling out the paper version and mailing it back to the court.
“It should be easier for people,” Sadler said. “I know some people are going to be a little nervous about the idea of doing it online. If somebody doesn't have access to a computer or they just don’t want to have to do that then the notice is going to tell them that they can just call us and then we’ll send them one of the old fashioned forms.”
Sadler hopes the new system will help improve the responses the county receives from people since potential jurors sometimes receive the questionnaires and forget to mail them back in. She also thinks people will prefer the online version to the paper version.
“Of course they’re still going to get the notice by mail but it should be easier for them,” she said. “Just to not have to worry about, ‘Oh I have to find a stamp or an envelope or I have to make a trip down to the courthouse.’”
The new Show-Me Jury system was piloted in the St. Louis City Circuit Court in February 2017 and Pettis County is the 36th court to implement the system, according to the release. Sadler said she thought the other courts had probably gotten a lot of questions when they first switched over but she didn’t think they had been experiencing problems with it.
Sadler also said the questions on the new online questionnaire would be the same as those on the paper version. Potential jurors will also have the option to attach documents like a medical excuse from their doctor to their questionnaire online. When potential jurors first go to the website they will be asked to put in their birthdate and the juror ID, which will be on the form they receive.
The press release advised citizens should be aware that the courts do not require citizens to provide confidential information by email or over the phone. The new system is “designed to give citizens the ability to choose how they want to communicate with their local courts about potential jury service.” The release also advised citizens to report any call or email threatening them with fines or jail time for failure to reply to law enforcement, since they are fraudulent and do not come from the Missouri courts.
18th Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Koffman encouraged citizens to take jury duty seriously.
“The keyword is duty and some people don't understand it’s a duty,” he said. “They seem to think it’s a convenience they can come if they can or somebody else can come if I can’t kind of a thing. It’s their duty to service and it’s my duty to make them serve.”