Mecklenburg County is doing its best to optimize the experience for the thousands of citizens who are called upon to serve on jury duty each month. The courthouse now features a business center and a daycare center for jurors’ use, as well as a juror assembly room with free Wi-Fi and an area where mothers can pump breast milk. During the wait to be called, movies are shown for jurors in the assembly room, where free popcorn is supplied. All jurors are also given a 90-minute lunch break.
Last week, the 26th Judicial District of North Carolina (Mecklenburg County) held a juror appreciation week, featuring a jazz ensemble, a celebrity speaker, and discounts for jurors at local restaurants near the courthouse. Juror Appreciation Week, which the district has put on every year for the past decade, was organized in order to “applaud the jurors who support the justice system” and make the juror experience more pleasant for all citizens who serve.
Every month, nearly 8,000 residents are selected for jury duty, although so far this year only about 6,000 potential jurors have actually sat on a jury. The National Center for State Courts reports, which sets benchmark statistics, declares that less than 5 percent of jurors in a county should be no-shows. In Mecklenburg County, only 4 percent of potential jurors never show up. Those who fail to appear for jury duty will receive a letter notifying them of their failure to appear. A repeat offender who fails to appear, without a valid reason, can face fines or be held in contempt of court by the judge.