Residents serving jury duty at the Stanislaus County courthouse over the past five days were greeted with cookies, muffins, fresh fruit and plenty of other treats as part of Juror Appreciation Week.
“The jurors seem to enjoy it,” said Joe Yniquez, deputy jury commissioner. “This week, we get to spoil them a bit.”
In 1998, the state Legislature declared the second week in May would be used to acknowledge the important contributions of citizens who devote their time to guarantee everyone’s right to a trial by jury, according to the state Judicial Council. Other superior courts throughout the state also recognized jurors this week.
Judges at the courthouse thank jurors for their service at the end of a trial. Yniquez said jurors play an invaluable role in the court system, and the time they spend at the courthouse never is taken for granted.
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“Without them, we wouldn’t be able to have these trials,” he said.
One alternate juror missed seeing his son compete in the high school golf playoffs last week. Yniquez said the alternate juror was part of a murder trial that went a few days over its estimated conclusion date.
But lengthy trials are not common at the courthouse. Yniquez said the average length of a trial is about three days, and court staff members try to reschedule jury duty for some when it’s possible.
About 70,000 jury duty summonses are mailed out each year in Stanislaus County, and about 10,000 people are asked to go to the courthouse to serve their jury duty.
Throughout the state, 9 million people are summoned to jury service annually, according to the Judicial Council. About 3 million people are asked to go to the courthouse as a potential juror each year, and about 80 percent of prospective jurors complete service in one day.
“Serving on a jury is more than a civic responsibility – it is how each and every one of us provides access to justice for all,” said state Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in a news release. “Jury service is where our citizens help to ensure one of our most important democratic ideals, that we are judged by a jury of our peers.”