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Jurors’ Willingness to Attend Jury Service in the Time of COVID-19

While some consultants and legal scholars have posited that COVID-19 will have a massive impact on who actually shows up for jury service when the courts reopen, these data suggest that the jury pool will largely stay the same. There will undeniably be a percentage of the population that avoids service due to fears of COVID-19, but it seems that many of these people are those who have avoided jury service in the past. Only about one in ten of those summoned is likely to ignore a summons on the basis of COVID-19. Moreover, this small portion of the jury-eligible population is not merely composed of the elderly or minorities, it’s a relatively diverse group that shares a fear of the virus.

However, these findings do not diminish the importance of courts taking steps to alleviate concerns about the virus. Although most jurors will attend, most are clearly concerned about getting COVID-19 and feel somewhat uncomfortable with serving, particularly for longer periods of time. For these reasons, the courts and litigating parties should take every precaution to ensure the safety of jurors. Failure to do so will likely result in distracted jurors and hasty deliberations.

Over the course of three weeks (July 6-27), IMS ExpertServices conducted a community attitude survey examining juror attitudes toward serving in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we asked whether potential jurors would appear for jury service if summoned for August 3rd. A total of 494 respondents in four representative venues—Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York—completed the survey. 

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© Copyright 2002-2021 IMS ExpertServices, All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 219
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About this Author

Associate Jury Consultant

Clint’s background in the fields of communication and trial consulting prepared him well for his position as jury consultant at IMS | The Focal Point. As an expert in the field of communication, he knows how to deliver crisp, effective courtroom messages. His work as a university instructor enabled him to develop an adaptive instructional style, which he now uses when he prepares different types of witnesses for trial. During his training as a trial consultant, Clint became skilled at evaluating mock trial data and identifying the traits that are predictive of verdict outcomes.

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Chris Ritter Senior Trial Advisor IMS Expert Services
Senior Trial Advisor

Chris Ritter is a highly sought advisor for top clients seeking guidance and perspective on case theme development, persuasion graphics development, witness preparation, and focus group and mock trial research. Chris graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and actively tried cases for nearly fifteen years. He served as adjunct professor of law at the University of California, Hastings School of Law for twelve years, teaching courses in trial practice and evidence. Chris has advised clients for more than twenty years on over 500 cases throughout the country, with more than 100...

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