Federal Jury Management Practices

GGD-81-42: Published: Mar 4, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1981.

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The importance of optimizing juror utilization is evidenced by the considerable amount of funds that is expended for unused jurors. GAO has previously reported that district court juror utilization practices could be improved. A study was performed to assess the progress made in improving juror usage efficiency.

There has not been much improvement in juror utilization over the past 5 years. GAO believes that this lack of improvement is a result of: (1) many district courts not using efficient utilization practices; (2) the judicial councils not assuming an active role over district jury usage practices; and (3) the judiciary not having adequate information on jury practices. Untapped opportunities still exist to further reduce the number of prospective jurors summoned to appear at district courts but not selected to serve. Such a reduction would result in a savings in jury costs and would decrease the number of persons inconvenienced, thereby improving the relationship between the courts and the public. GAO believes that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts should improve the management information it gathers on district court jury practices so as to assist the judicial councils and courts in identifying specific areas where cost savings could be achieved. The judicial councils should insure that district courts are using their jurors in the most efficient manner through such means as the pooling of jurors and the selection of two or more juries for use in separate trials before the same judge.

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