Panel offers solutions to fix Philly's abysmal jury response rate

A panel, put together to improve Philadelphia's woefully low response rate to jury summonses, has released its report.

Pat Loeb
May 13, 2018 - 1:45 am
Jury Duty Summons
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- A panel, put together to improve Philadelphia's woefully low response rate to jury summonses, has released its report after more than a year of work. They've made a long list of recommendations, but one stands out.

Better education and outreach, more engaging social media, and a simpler summons form are among the changes the Juror Participation Initiative thinks will make a difference. Common Pleas president Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper says the courts will begin acting on those right away, but she thinks the key recommendation will take legislative action.

"I think one of the major things that concerns jurors is the pay," said Woods-Skipper. "It's still $9 a day."

The panel recommends other incentives such as transportation subsidies and tax credits for employers who pay workers while they serve on juries. Woods-Skipper says with up to 42 percent of those called for jury duty simply ignoring the summons, it's time for action.

"The fundamental purpose of our justice system is to insure that we do have a jury of our peers," she said, "and if many of our peers aren't coming, that's problematic."