By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- For the past couple of years, the Midland County Courthouse has battled the growing problem of negligent jurors. On Monday, a new solution was introduced during the county commissioners court meeting at a price tag of only $10.00.
Every week, 700 jury notices are sent out to Midlanders, but only around 200 of those summoned jurors actually show up.
"We found that part of the problem is that juror cards are being lost in that great 'black hole' in the post office and we understand that but, still, it leaves a great number of jurors in Midland County that do not report and do not tell us why they can't report. Or [they] just ignore us completely," Midland County District Clerk, Ross Bush, said.
Midland County Judge, Mike Bradford, says, "So, what happens is, your panels are delayed [and] your trials are delayed [so] everything costs more to the county taxpayer."
At Monday's meeting, commissioners approved a plan that may solve the dilemma.
"Nowadays, everyone has access to a computer and to an i-Phone," Bush said.
In light of that, he's trying to put the jury selection process online. Currently, Travis County is using a system called "I-Jury". The software was developed by its own information technology employees after having struggled with the same juror no-shows that Midland in facing.
"As soon as you log in with your correct number and name, it's just like you're showing up to the courthouse. You get to pick the day you want to report and you know that there's going to be a jury [that convenes]," Bush said.
The juror can also get email and text alerts, should any of their scheduled appearances change.
According to Judge Bradford, Travis County reports that close to 85% of their summoned jurors now show up to court. Midland is hoping for the same results.
Travis County is letting Midland County try the program out for a minimal fee of $10.00.
We're told the Midland County Courthouse should have the program up and running by August of 2013.