A new tool will be offered next month to help make things easier for potential jurors, allowing them to text and email questions about their jury summons.
September jury duty recipients will be the first group to try out the new mobile messaging system called mJuror.
Those summoned to jury duty can register online from their smart phone or computer at mjuror.com, type in their jury number and finalize the process with their electronic signature.
Madison County Jury Commissioner Linda Murray said she expects the mJuror tool will benefit her and potential jurors.
Murray works by herself in the jury office, organizing between 100 and 150 potential jurors each jury week and said she can't always immediately answer every phone call or question people have.
“For me, [mJuror] will take care of 50 percent of the phone calls when I’m in here," she said. "And, I’ll be able to manage it when I’m not here.”
The mJuror system, however, will not be able to answer all of the questions jurors may have. When they register online, a list of questions mJuror can answer will be provided and any questions not on the list will be directed to Murray.
Judicial Systems Incorporated will manage the technology. The actual mJuror software will answer questions electronically from a computer, which is prepared to interpret questions in everyday language using a form of artificial intelligence.
Chief Judge David Hylla’s office issued a summary of the technology stating, “Natural language is full of subtle tones, which mJuror is able to pick up and enterpret. It understands idioms and slang, even dialect and SMS shorthand, and it’s also sympathetic to grammar, syntax or spelling mistakes.”
Installation for mJuror cost $6,300. After installation it will cost an additional $520 each year for maintenance.
Murray said the mJuror will not cost taxpayers anything. She said the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s office will pay for installation and upkeep using funds obtained from attorneys’ filing fees.
The new tool is an advancement of iJuror, the existing interactive web based jury management system that began in 2007 and allows people to register for jury duty and fill out questionnaires online.
Murray said as technology advances, so does their iJuror program. Mobile messaging and email is just the next step in keeping up with technology, she said.
The mJuror system is still in the testing phase, but Murray said she expects a smooth transition.
“I don’t foresee any complications,” Murray said. “But with every new thing that comes along, there are always complications. We will just have to work the bugs out as we get them.”