Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter is shocked and dismayed to hear jury duty has fallen to the wayside for Midlanders.District judges said they will send a warning letter to those who didn't show up, but if that didn't work Sheriff Painter said "we will take summons in hand and we will go to every person's house that had a summons issued, go to their place of business, we'll snatch them up and we'll go to court."
Thousands of residents are skipping out on jury service and it's costing the county big.
Midland County admits they haven't implemented consequences for not showing up for jury duty in a few years, but now they're serious if you don't respond, you could end up at the county courthouse anyway.
"This is the worst problem with jurors not showing up for jury summons that I have ever seen in 25 years," said Midland Co. District Attorney Teresa Clingman.
This week alone, of 750 summons sent out only 149 people reported to the Midland County Courthouse Monday morning.
"75 percent of people fail to show up for jury duty, that is a constitutional right," said Sheriff Painter.
What does it say about the system that so few folks show up for jury duty? Have attitudes changed since the rates were higher, and if so, how? Do Midlanders take the obligations of citizenship more lightly than in the past? Do folks think high conviction rates mean it doesn't matter whether they participate or not? Does there need to be more notice than a single letter mailed to prospective jurors? (Open rates for direct mail are notoriously low.) Is the low rate for juror pay a factor for people who lose wages when not at work? I find this datapoint particularly curious and surprising. What do you think is causing it? What strategies might fix it?
Imagine if 98+% of cases didn't result in plea bargains: The whole system would break down if defendants demanded jury trials at all more frequently.
UPDATE: From Texas Watchdog, "Jury duty stipends cut from $40 to $28 per day, $1.7 million savings for state of Texas." Further, "Letters from the state Comptroller went out in August reminding county courts that the robust $6 reimbursement for the first day of jury duty would not change."