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

IMS Insights

By: Clint Townson, PhD

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 Consulting & Expert Services 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. For a summary of the Research Design and Sample Parameters, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub.

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