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Marion County still battling juror no-shows

January 1, 2007
Half of jurors called to serve in Marion County are failing to appear.

Local judges are talking about it and changing policy to give no-show jurors a second chance to show up if they've ignored one summons, and from there implementing potential penalties ranging from fees to community service.

Improvements have come since Indiana altered its jury pool list last year to include more than voter-registration records full of outdated addresses, but about 52 percent failed to show up on assigned days, court figures show.

To help aid in curbing this low turnout, a separate fundraising campaign is under way to increase public awareness about jury duty and boost the turnout.

Law firms and bar associations are contributing money - about $21,500 so far, according to Beverly Phillips, a consultant for the court heading the initiative. Letters were sent in May to about 20 major law firms asking for support, including Barnes & Thornburg, Krieg DeVault, and Bingham McHale.

Those letters note that firms and businesses are being asked to donate $5,000 to help underwrite the public education effort, which will include billboards and outreach to the minority community to help dispel myths associated with jury duty such as citizens can be fired by employers for missing work to respond to a jury summons.

Marion Superior Court officials are also considering whether to ask the Indiana Supreme Court for grant money to aid in the effort. The court's four-judge Executive Committee discussed the idea this morning, but did not make any decisions. More discussion is planned this month.
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