FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT
September 28, 2005 Carmella Sabaugh 586-469-7939
Antonio P. Viviano 586-469-5438
Gene Brown 586-412-3464
Bill Froberg 586-463-0094
Macomb county clerk shortens jury duty
One-Day One-Trial System APPROVED BY JUDGES
Macomb County Clerk – Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh's plan shortening most jury duty from one week to just one day was recently approved for a test run by Macomb County circuit court judges and the first pink jury summonses under the new plan were mailed today. Those summoned for Macomb County circuit court jury duty in November and December will be dismissed after just one day if they are not picked for a jury trial.
Sabaugh's plan has no added cost to taxpayers. Juror pay will remain $25 for the first day $40 for subsequent days. Sabaugh's proposal has more first days and fewer subsequent days because most people will be dismissed after the first day.
“As a mother of five, I know how hard it is to give up an entire week when summoned for jury duty,” said Sabaugh. “With a one-day/one-trial system, most people will miss only one day from work or away from their kids. This will be much better for our community.”
"People summoned for jury duty in the future can thank Carmella Sabaugh for shortening the term from one week to just one day," said Antonio J. Viviano, Macomb County Circuit Court Chief Judge. "This is another major improvement to the county's judicial system. We also upgraded juvenile court processes and cut bind over times by two-thirds."
“It’s nice to know County Clerk Sabaugh is looking out for people who must miss work to serve on jury duty,” said Gene Brown from Clinton Township who was serving on jury duty this week. “The county clerk staff was polite and efficient when I was on jury duty. This new service will make jury duty less of a burden.”
“This is a step forward. It again proves the efficiency of County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh and the commissions working with her office,” said William Froberg, Macomb County Jury Commissioner. “Macomb County jury duty will be less of a burden for the average person.”
Under the current system, those summoned for jury duty must serve Tuesday through Friday. Most of a juror's time is idle. Although the average jury trial in Macomb County lasts four days, the odds of actually being picked for a jury trial are slim. Of the 12,392 people summoned for jury duty in 2004, only 1,663 served on a trial.
"I thank Chief Judge Viviano and our other judges for their willingness to try a one-day/one-trial system," said Sabaugh. "This makes more work for my jury staff but they agreed to it because they know this will make jury duty much better for our residents. I sincerely thank my staff for this."
Sabaugh’s office mails blue juror qualification questionnaires every year to Macomb County residents based on Secretary of State driver’s licenses and Michigan identification cards. Voter registration records are not used for jury duty. The questionnaires are returned to Sabaugh’s office where a pool of qualified jurors is created. It is from this pool that jurors are sent pink jury summonses to serve on jury duty. A juror can be summoned for jury duty no more than once per year. Jurors 70 years and older may decline to serve. Each year a new list of potential jurors is created.
In 2004, 12,392 people were sent summonses for jury duty, 7,220 people were brought in but only 1,663 actually served on a jury. In 2004, 17,250 circuit court cases were filed in the Macomb County Clerk’s Office. Only 147 resulted in jury trials. There were 97 criminal case jury trials with an average trial length of 3.4 days and 50 civil case jury trials with an average trial length of 3.1 days. On average 150 jurors serve daily. According to Sabaugh’s office, a person receiving a pink jury summons has only about a 13% chance of actually serving on a jury trial that lasts more than one day. When a jury is selected 14 people comprise a criminal jury and 8 people comprise a civil jury. More jurors must be summoned than the jury trial statistics represent because cases often settle at the last minute.
The United States Constitution guarantees the right to trial by jury. The framers of the United States Constitution considered both the right to a jury trial and the performance of juror service as sacred and necessary to preserve individual freedom. Juror service is viewed as a duty and privilege of citizenship and as a necessary check against government use of the courts to wrongly convict the innocent.
Sabaugh made other juror improvements last year. She started a program with the Suburban Mobile Authority for Regional Transport (SMART) providing free bus tickets to jurors. She also partnered with the Mount Clemens Public Library letting jurors request books on the Internet to be delivered to the jury room upon jurors' arrival. Both programs were done at no additional taxpayer cost.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as county clerk and I have more improvements for jurors planned," said Sabaugh.
Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh improvements include:
· First county clerk in Michigan to offer evening hours, Wednesdays until 7 pm.
· Overnight delivery service for birth certificates and other vital records.
· Shortened deed recording turnaround time to approximately five days.
· Put county and local candidates’ campaign finance reports on the Internet improving compliance.
· Toll-free fax-on-demand system for forms and information.
· Put the Macomb County circuit court public case index on the Internet.
· Accepts fax requests for court documents and will even fax file info back to you.
· Lists business registrations and death records on the Internet.
· Let students "learn and earn" by appointing student election inspectors.
· Started a Personal Protection Order Assistance Center.
· Started a “Mobile Branch Office.”
· Uses computerized scanning and indexing putting public real estate deeds on the Internet.
· Accepts credit card payments, making paying for services easier.
· Ended potential “judge shopping” by computerizing random judge selection.
· Requires competitive bids for elections supplies saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.