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Selected to Serve: An Analysis of Lifetime Jury Participation

NCJ Number
Date Published
Marc A. Musick, Mary R. Rose, Shari Seidman Diamond
Using a survey of a random sample of 1,380 adult Texans, this study identified factors that distinguished those who had ever had an opportunity to serve on a jury and those who had not “lifetime participation.”
The process of becoming a juror has three phases: the summoning stage, the summons response and qualification stage, and the selection process in the courtroom. In order to survive the summoning stage of juror selection, an individual’s name must appear on the court’s source lists for summoning, that person must be sampled, and he/she must receive a summons. If an individual receives a summons, he/she will continue in the selection process only if the person recognizes the summons and responds, is eligible to serve, does not seek and obtain an exemption, and is assigned to a courtroom for questioning. Being selected after questioning depends on the outcomes of various challenges to the prospective juror’s ability to be a fair and impartial juror. In contrast to results from studies of jury panel representativeness, the current study found that race and ethnicity were poor predictors of jury selection. Rather, other factors - particularly residential stability, being a recent voter, education, and some attitudinal variables - were significant predictors that distinguished those who had served on juries from those who had not. This study shows that conceptualizing jury service in terms of lifetime prevalence demonstrates a different pattern by race than does a snapshot of who serves at a given point in time. An important finding is that the earliest phases of the jury selection process, are the most likely to determine who will reach the courthouse selection stage. This provides an empirical basis for improving the quality of lists used to locate prospective jurors. 4 tables and 63 references
Date Created: February 29, 2012