St. Joseph County residents should be on the lookout for either a white or pink postcard with the words “Official Juror Notification”. The card will be sent out to citizens who have been selected as possible jurors. It requires the recipient complete a questionnaire comprised of 18 questions within 10 days using one of the methods described on the card which include an online option, a smart phone option, or an automated phone line option. Jury questionnaires via the new system are expected to be mailed out the first week of January 2019.
The new system software was installed last week, and the Clerks and Courts anticipate implementation within the next few weeks. “Installation went smoothly and at this point we feel confident that the new software will make communication between the Courts and potential jurors far easier,” said Scott Senff, Director of Information Technology for St. Joseph County.
Once a citizen has completed the questionnaire, they will wait until they receive an actual jury summons in the mail with a specific reporting date to appear for jury duty. At that time, they may use the new system to submit requests to be excused or deferred to another date.
This pre-qualification system is new to the county and is expected to streamline the juror selection process from beginning to end which will save St. Joseph County money across several departments in paper, postage, supplies and employee time as well as adding convenience to the citizens of St. Joseph County.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring our jury communication system into the twenty-first century,” said Brigette Wasielewski, St. Joseph Superior Court Administrator, “This new jury system will allow our potential jurors several options on how they may choose to complete their jury questionnaire.”
The new software was paid for, in part, by a Court Improvement Grant from the Indiana Supreme Court secured by Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler and Circuit Court Administrator, Lisa Plencner. “It is important that we communicate with potential jurors effectively and efficiently, whether that’s via text message, email, internet, telephone, or U.S. Mail,” said Judge Hostetler.
This new system features interactive voice response, available 24 hours per day, mobile next notification, email notification, address verification, automatic links to the internet to access information, and an online juror qualification form. It utilizes technological advances such as bar code technology for registration and tracking of jurors, automatic excusal / tracking, interactive web response, interactive voice response, data security, and statistical tracking.
The County purchased the system from Judicial Systems, Inc. of Tyler, Texas. This same system is being used in several other counties across Indiana, including Allen, Hamilton, and Lake. Circuit Court Administrator, Lisa Plencner added, "So far we have had nothing but positive feedback from the other counties involved with Judicial Systems, Inc., and we look forward to having their representatives on site next month to begin training our staff."