NCSC Juries In A Post Pandemic World Survey Analysis 0620

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To:National Center for State CourtsFrom: GBAODate: June 22, 2020Jury Trials in a (Post) Pandemic World – National Survey AnalysisThe coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on state courts’ commitment to meet theirconstitutional duty to provide fair, timely jury trials. As many states begin to reopen publicbuildings and courthouses, court administrators face an unprecedented challenge inunderstanding how public concerns about the ongoing pandemic will impact their ability torecruit a representative jury pool and to meet the public health expectations of the citizens theyserve.In order to better understand these challenges and identify the most effective means ofmaximizing public confidence, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) commissioned anational survey1 to explore issues including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, health andfamily obstacles preventing potential jurors from reporting to their local courthouse, access tointernet services for potential online alternatives to in-person jury service, and attitudes towardsuch remote services. This research found that concerns about the safety of reporting to acourthouse and obstacles related to the health of potential jurors and their families are universal,but the intensity of these concerns and the likelihood they will impact an individual’s willingnessto report for jury service differ significantly along demographic lines – particularly race, gender,and age.There is good news in this survey for court administrators. Public response to the pandemic, aswell as protests across much of the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing – the surveywas fielded two weeks after that tragic event and 12 days after the country exceeded 100,000deaths related to coronavirus – have not undermined public confidence in state courts, whichremains consistent with the average confidence levels measured over eight years of annualpolling on public attitudes toward the courts. Similarly, ratings of the overall job performance ofstate courts, while mixed (46 percent excellent/good, 51 percent just fair/poor) are consistentwith longer-term trends and do not show any negative impacts of recent events.However, this survey makes clear that the public harbors significant concerns about the courts’ability to safely and effectively provide justice in a society where coronavirus remains a very realand present threat. They have high expectations for the steps courts must take to maximize thesafety of all those entering courthouses, and while they are open to a range of technological1GBAO conducted a representative national survey of 1,000 registered voters on June 8-11, 2020. Interviews wereconducted by live interviewers via landlines and cell phones, as well as online. Survey results are subject to amargin of error of /- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.1701 K Street NW Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006202-621-1411www.gbaostrategies.com

solutions to minimize the need for in-person appearances, they also have doubts about how‘remote’ justice would work and whether it could deliver the same fair, impartial process theyexpect from in-person proceedings. Regardless of how individual states decide to tackle thechallenges of this new world, it is clear that proactive communication and consistent reassurancewill be necessary to maintain public confidence and maximize participation in the jury process.Below are key findings across a number of key areas explored in this research:The Impact of Coronavirus Direct impact is limited Consistent with national coronavirus case records, just onepercent of respondents reported testing positive for the virus, while 10 percent had received anegative test result, 7 percent reported experiencing symptoms consistent with the disease butnot getting tested, and 81 percent reported not being tested or experiencing relevantsymptoms. but majority face high risk or other complications. The real impact of coronavirus onthe likelihood of individuals reporting for jury duty lies not in their own personal experiencewith the virus, but rather in their fears for contracting it themselves or exposing others. Thissurvey found that 55 percent of potential jurors face at least one obstacle that makes itdangerous or logistically impossible for them to report for jury duty if summoned:Ø 47% say that either they or someone in their household has an underlying medicalcondition that would make them more vulnerable if they contracted the virusØ 14% say they are currently the primary caregiver for an aging parent or other elderlyfamily memberØ 19% of those with kids say they could not leave their kids without child care and arecurrently unable to secure reliable child care Important demographic differences impact availability of jury pool. As is often the casewhen it comes to both health conditions and serving as a caregiver, there are clear gender andage dynamics at play here that would have a direct impact on courts’ ability to draw arepresentative jury pool. Just 41 percent of men under age 50 face one of the three obstaclesidentified above, but that number rises to 52 percent among women under 50, 57 percentamong men ages 50 , and 65 percent among women ages 50 .Digital Divide and Access to Technology Vast majority of potential jurors have internet service at home. Overall, 85 percentreport having some form of internet service at their home, and 79 percent say they have highspeed broadband service. What’s more, 95 percent say they have a cell phone of some sort,and 86 percent say they have a smartphone that provides them with the ability to connect tothe internet and perform critical tasks such as sending and receiving e-mails or reviewingdocuments sent to them. Only 2 percent say they have no internet service at all.2

Some important differences in access emerge. As we would expect, while overall accessto the internet and internet-enabled devices is very high, age emerges as a critical variable.Only 70 percent of seniors (ages 65 ) have internet access at home, and less than 2-in-3seniors (64 percent) have broadband access at home. Similarly, 86 percent of seniors havecell phones, but only 64 percent own smartphones. While age restrictions on required servicein many states mean seniors comprise a smaller portion of the potential jury pool than theydo the population as a whole, they are nonetheless a critical constituency, and age 65 is not arigid dividing line here – the older any potential juror is, the less likely they are to haveinternet access or internet-connected devices. Ability to participate in remote processes could be impacted by inconsistent cell phoneplans. While overall cell phone access is extremely high, many potential jurors could beconstrained by limits on their cell phone plans. As we detail later in this report, nearly half ofpotential jurors say they would rely on their cell phone if participating in a jury processremotely, and we can not automatically assume they will use broadband access, even if it isavailable. Just 58 percent report having both unlimited minutes (70 percent overall) andunlimited data (68 percent overall), while 17 percent have neither of these features. Again,there is significant drop-off based on age. Just 43 percent of seniors have both unlimitedminutes and data while 32 percent of seniors have neither. Among those ages 50-64, just 59percent have both while 19 percent have neither. Among those under 50, 65 percent haveboth (including 79 percent with unlimited data) and just 7 percent have neither. Growing comfort with video conferencing services, but large demographic gaps emerge.Use of video conferencing services has exploded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and70 percent of respondents in this survey say they have used these services at least once in thelast three months, including more than half (52 percent) who have used ‘video conferencingservices such as Zoom, WebEx, Skype, or Google Hangouts’ regularly over this time period.However, as with any measure of technology usage, significant demographic gaps emerge.Regular usage of these services is highest among college-educated women (73 percent),women under 50 (72 percent), and anyone under age 30 (69 percent); it is lowest among noncollege educated men (31 percent), men over age 50 (38 percent), and of course, seniors (just30 percent).We used this survey to measure not just experience with these services, but also howconfortable respondents would feel ‘using video conferencing services for meetings orappointments typically held in person,’ and 2-in-3 (66 percent) reported they would feel veryor somewhat comfortable doing so. This number is much larger than the number whoregularly use these services because men, across demographic lines, are much more likely tosay they would be comfortable using these technologies despite a lack of experience withthem.3

Reporting for Jury Duty Greater hesitation about reporting to courthouse than engaging in other activities. Weasked respondents how comfortable they would personally feel engaging in a range ofactivities, regardless of current restrictions in their respective areas. We found that they areless comfortable reporting to their local courthouse or serving on a jury than engaging in anyother activity tested, including going to other government buildings, going to a polling place,or eating out at a restaurant.Activities in a ‘Post’ Pandemic World% Not ComfortablePlease indicate how comfortable you wouldpersonally feel right now doing each of thefollowing on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10means extremely comfortable and 0 meansextremely uncomfortable Visiting with a close friend orfamily member at their homeGoing out to the grocery storeGoing to a polling place to voteGoing to a government office orpublic buildingEating out in a restaurantReporting to your local courthousefor jury duty if you received asummons requiring you to appearReporting to your local courthousefor jury dutyServing on a jury if selectedTotalRiskObstaclesNo %73%54%59%48%51%49%66%While all groups are less comfortable reporting to the courthouse or serving on a jury,resistance is greatest among African Americans, who are less likely to engage in any of theactivities measured, and those with high-risk obstacles. Looking at the other end of the 0-10scale employed in this measure, less than 1-in-4 African Americans and less than 30percent of those facing obstacles say they would be comfortable reporting to thecourthouse or serving on a jury. Two-in-three say they would appear if summoned. Despite the concerns detailed above,jury duty is not a volunteer activity, and 66 percent say they would report for jury duty ifsummoned, while 29 percent say they would not. Familiar demographic differences emergeon this question, although the gaps in self-reported intention to report for jury service aremuch smaller than those above on the level of personal comfort with that action:Ø Race – 69% of white respondents would report, compared to 64% of Hispanics and58% of African AmericansØ Gender – 74% of men would report, compared to 59% of women4

Ø Age – 74% of those under 50 would report, compared to 65% of those ages 50-64 and53% of seniorsPredictably, those not facing high risk obstacles are more likely to report (70 percent) thanthose who do face such obstacles (63 percent), but again, the gap is not as great as on theirlevel of personal comfort. This underscores the stress and anxiety that many potential jurorsare likely to feel if they are summoned to the courthouse and the need to consistently providereassurances in communications, as well as in the safety measures adopted at the courthouse.We should note that there was no difference in intention to report between those who hadpreviously reported for jury duty, served on a jury, or been in their local courthouse for anyreason within the last five years. In other words, familiarity with the physical building or theprocess does not make potential jurors any more likely to report. Large majorities support universal mask requirements within the courthouse. Despitesome loud voices of dissent, public polling has consistently shown that large majorities ofAmericans support requirements to wear masks in public places, and the courthouse is nodifferent. We asked respondents what rules they would want to see regarding the wearing ofmasks if they should be required to report for jury duty:Ø 67 percent believe, ‘All individuals entering the courthouse should be required towear masks’Ø 16 percent say, ‘Masks should be encouraged but not required for all individualsentering the courthouse’Ø Just 13 percent believe, ‘There should be no rules regarding masks in the courthouse’Support for a mask requirement is high across most subgroups, but it peaks among AfricanAmericans (78 percent), seniors (77 percent) and college-educated women (81 percent).Among those who say they would be uncomfortable returning to a public courthouse, thenumber supporting a mask requirement jumps to 89 percent. There is also a marked partisandynamic to this question that is greater than on any other question in this survey, withsupport at 91 percent among Democrats, 65 percent among Independents, and just 42 percentamong Republicans. Temperature checks and coronavirus testing stand out as most important safetyreassurances that court administrators can take. We tested seven potential steps thatcourt administrators could adopt to maximize the safety and health of all those enteringpublic courthouses and asked respondents whether each step would make them morecomfortable with the idea of reporting to the courthouse if necessary. More than 2-in-3 saideach of the measures tested would make them much more comfortable or somewhat morecomfortable reporting to the courthouse, but