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

By Christopher Ritter and Clint Townson Ph.D.

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 ExpertServices 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.


IMS Consulting & Expert Services

IMS Consulting & Expert Services delivers consultative trial and expert services for the most influential global firms. For nearly thirty years, the company has been dedicated to helping clients tell clear and persuasive stories that educate jurors and decision-makers. Through more than 20,000 cases and well over 1,000 trials, attorneys have trusted IMS to equip them with the perspective and tools they need to help their clients succeed. With offices in New York, Dallas, Oakland, and Pensacola, the company provides persuasion strategy, expert witness, jury consulting, trial graphics, and trial presentation services. IMS has been recognized as an industry leader by several notable publications, receiving nine consecutive rankings on the Inc. 5000 list, standing in ten categories of The National Law Journal’s “Best Of 2021” awards, and positioning in the National Law Review’s prestigious “Go-To Thought Leader” awards for three consecutive years. More at expertservices.com.

FEATURING: Christopher Ritter

Chris Ritter is a highly sought advisor for top clients seeking guidance and perspective on case theme development, persuasion graphics development, witness preparation, and focus group and mock trial research. Chris graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and actively tried cases for nearly fifteen years. He served as adjunct professor of law at the University of California, Hastings School of Law for twelve years, teaching courses in trial practice and evidence. Read more about Christopher Ritter >>

FEATURING: Clint Townson Ph.D.

With a Ph.D. in the field of communication, Clint knows how to deliver crisp, effective courtroom messages. His work as a university instructor enabled him to develop an adaptive instructional style which he now uses when he prepares different types of witnesses for trial. During his training as a trial consultant, Clint became skilled at evaluating mock trial data and identifying the traits that are predictive of verdict outcomes. Read more about Clint Townson >>

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