New Jury Plaza Helping With Turnout

A new Harris County jury facility that opened earlier this year has helped turnout over the last few months. That's according to the district clerk who says more prospective jurors showing up means savings for Harris County.

District Clerk Chris Daniel says it's always been a struggle to get people to show up for jury duty, but the new Jury Plaza downtown has made it a bit easier. Over the past four months, the average jury turnout rate is up 5-percent. Sometimes it's a lot better than that.

"You can see it for yourself as people are filing in to the jury assembly building downtown. Whereas in some cases we would only have 600 people show up and we needed 1,000 for the day, now we're having 1,100-plus show up for those same jury calls just to give you orders of magnitude."


Photos taken June 21, 2011 by Gail Delaughter

Daniel says more jurors showing up for service means the county is saving money.

"What that helps out with is the bottom line, is saving taxpayer dollars. Because what happens is is that as we have more people show up to jury service, we're able to predict, then we can send fewer notices and as we send fewer notices, that not only saves on cost of personnel to go through the database and so forth. It also saves on paper, postage and time."

The new Jury Plaza opened in July and features free Wi-Fi service, recharging stations, a snack bar and more comfortable seating.