Residents of Jefferson and Lewis counties called to jury duty now can count on a decade-long reprieve before being summoned to serve again.
Judge James C. Tormey III, Syracuse, administrative judge for the Fifth Judicial District, announced an initiative Wednesday that would increase from eight years to 10 years the period in which a person will be exempt from serving, providing the person reports for jury duty for at least one day when summoned. In 2004, the district raised the period from four years to six years, then raised it to eight years in 2009.
If someone knows that they can come in for a day, or for up to a week, and then theyre not going to be bothered again for 10 years, theyre just going to be very pleased, Jefferson County Commissioner of Jurors Laurie J. Steyer said.
The move is part of an initiative by Judge Tormey and Fifth Judicial District jury coordinator Sidney Oglesby to make the jury system more efficient and improve the experience for potential jurors within the district, which also includes Herkimer, Oneida and Onondaga counties. In addition to giving jurors more time between summonses, the change is expected to broaden the mix of jurors, save taxpayers and employers money through better jury management and give more people a chance to serve on a jury.
Mrs. Steyer said employers should like the change, knowing that if a worker is called to duty, they do not to have to worry about the worker being called again soon.
The change also could be an extra incentive for people to show up for jury selection when summoned, knowing that it is the path to a 10-year exemption from future service even if they are not chosen as a juror.
The 10-year exemption applies only to those who appear for at least one day of service, not to summoned jurors who call a hot line and are told they do not need to report. Those people get a four-year reprieve before they can be called again.
Since Ive been commissioner, Ive never had a juror thats complained about being on jury duty, Mrs. Steyer said. Ive had multiple people ask if they could be put back in the pool because they really enjoyed being a juror.
People can be placed back in the pool, but need to fill out a request to do so, Mrs. Steyer said. She said there are more than enough people within each county in the district to make sure that, even with the additional years exemption, there is a large enough pool from which to draw prospective jurors. She said Fort Drum, with a continuously changing population, increases the size of the pool from which Jefferson County can draw.
Thats good, she said. You get a wider pool of people, with different backgrounds.