Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
603-271-2646 ext 2359
NH Jury Selection Process is now Electronic
CONCORD, August 14, 2013—The New Hampshire Superior Court has implemented a new electronic jury management system that will allow potential jurors to fill out questionnaires by computer, rather than paper, reducing postage costs and saving time for court staff and trial lawyers.
The first jury selection using the new software is scheduled for September 4th in Grafton County Superior Court and on September 9th for Rockingham, Coos and Belknap Counties. Hundreds of potential jurors in those four counties received a summons in the mail last week which provided them with a "jury candidate number" and instructions for logging in to the new online jury management system. New Hampshire jurors are selected from a list of licensed drivers, and non-driver identification card holders, provided by the Department of Safety and from a list of registered voters provided by the Secretary of State's office.
Once online, potential jurors are asked to complete a questionnaire designed to provide the court, and lawyers for parties at trial, with basic background information. Prior to implementation of the new online system, paper questionnaires were filled out by potential jurors each year and mailed back to the 11 Superior Courts. Now, all jury management will be handled electronically and consolidated in a single office at Hillsborough County Superior Court Southern District in Nashua. For jurors without computer access, terminals will be available at each Superior Court location.
Summons are now mailed from a central automated mailing service providing savings in postage and staff time previously needed to print and mail from the individual counties. More than 18,000 people were summoned to jury duty in 2012; from that pool, jurors were selected to serve on 253 criminal and 51 civil jury trials. Others served on grand juries, which are empaneled to decide whether the prosecution has enough evidence for a person accused of a crime to be indicted and brought to trial.
State lawmakers appropriated $500,000 in 2012 for the software needed to implement the new jury management system, replacing the long standing, labor intensive process of copying and reading hundreds of juror questionnaires, often completed by hand. In 2013, the legislature amended state law to allow for electronic completion of juror questionnaires. In addition to eliminating paper, the new system also allows the court system to contact jurors by e-mail or voice mail with updates on their service, eliminating the time consuming process of making telephone calls to individual jurors. Court staff will also be able to take juror attendance electronically, using a bar scanner system.
"We are grateful that the legislature recognized the need to modernize our jury management system, which not only saves time for court staff and lawyers, but also benefits members of the public who are asked to give of their valuable time to serve as jurors," Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau said.
Prior to a jury trial, a "pool" of potential jurors is assembled at the courthouse. Under the new system, a computer will randomly select names of jurors from the "pool" to sit on a jury for a particular case. Previously jurors were assigned numbers and their names were pulled at random by the court clerk. Prior to jury selection, lawyers in the case will have received an electronic summary of the juror questionnaires.
Questions about the jury management system should be directed to Patricia Lenz, Superior Court Administrator at PLenz@courts.state.nh.us.
To learn about the jury system, and hear fellow citizens talk about their experiences as jurors, watch the new "Jury Orientation Video" which is posted on the Judicial Branch website.