Sacramento County Jury Commissioner

jury.GIFSacramento County, CA Jury Commissioner Letter

I had told a friend of mine, another attorney who has a profound hearing loss but is not technically deaf, about my recent and ongoing experience with the Sacramento County call to juror service. She decided to send an inquiry to the Commissioner to see why deaf people have to go and show up in the jury waiting room rather than going online to see if their juror pool number or go on the telephone and see if the pool number gets called in.

Response from the Jury Commissioner

Here’s the response to my friend’s inquiry:

(Name withheld) shared with me your concerns regarding scheduling jury duty for member of our community who are hearing impaired. She indicated that you were concerned tht we don’t allow deaf jurors to avail themselves of the phone call-in or Internet check-in process and that we should have a 24-hour recorded TDD message available for group reporting information for deaf jurors.

It is true that we ask them to report instead of being on-call as we’re scheduling an ASL interpreter and the call-in process or Internet check-in process doesn’t allow enough time to cancel the ASL interpreter if the deaf juror’s group wasn’t needed. Unfortunately, because we’re a Master Calendar court, we don’t know until less than 24 hours prior to the reporting day whether certain groups will be needed or not. By this time, it’s already too late to cancel an ASL interpreter.

The trial courts contact Jury Services to report their juror needs by 10:30 am each day for same day needs or by 3:30 pm for a need for jurors on the following or any future day. The nature of our trial assignments in a Master Calendar make it currently impossible to know sufficiently in advance to cancel an ASL interpreter.

As a matter of fact, trial courts don’t know sufficiently in advance when they’ll need jurors until they receive a trial and talk to the parties. They won’t know until they receive the triral if jury selection will begin on the same day or on some other subsequent day. Trial courts do try to tell us as soon as possible when they’ll need jurors, but most often trial courts need jurors either the same day that the trial was assigned to them or by 9:00 am or 1:30 pm the following day. It’s very unusual for a trial court to receive a trial days before the jury selection will actually begin.

I can understand and appreciate that being told not to follow the group reporting information can be alarming, but we’re trying to balance the needs of the community in scheduling ASL interpreters with the needs of our members of the community who are hearing impaired and want to fulfill their duty to serve as a juror. We want to make available to any/all deaf jurors an ASL interpreter so that he/she can participate in jury duty. Currently, the only way to balance those needs is to have deaf jurors report on definite dates where we can schedule an ASL interpreter. In addition, we are currently unable to schedule two interpreters each day in order to be available in case a deaf juror’s group number was asked to report on any day throughout the week.

TO BE CONTINUED I know the above so far has been very long, but the rest of the letter is shorter and contains some surprising information I will share in a later posting.