Wisconsin thanks tens of thousands of jurors for serving justice

Madison, Wisconsin - August 31, 2012

Circuit courts statewide will celebrate Juror Appreciation Month during September by hosting a variety of activities to thank the tens of thousands of people who report to Wisconsin courthouses for jury service each year.

"Jurors are a cornerstone of our democracy. They serve to ensure that our rights are protected, and that we are all held accountable under the law. Without jurors, our system of justice would not function properly, and the constitutional right to a trial by jury could not be upheld," said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson.

The theme of statewide Juror Appreciation Month, is Jurors Serve Justice; Justice Serves Us All. The occasion also offers an opportunity to thank jurors' families and employers, who may be inconvenienced by jury duty. September was first declared statewide Juror Appreciation Month in 2008 by Abrahamson, then-Gov. Jim Doyle, and by the state Senate and Assembly. Abrahamson has twice served on juries during her tenure on the Supreme Court.

In all, 83,768 people reported to a Wisconsin courthouse ready to serve on a jury during 2011, and 20,896 people served as jurors during a trial. Just like voting, jury service provides an opportunity for direct participation in our government, and each juror makes a difference, Abrahamson said.

"They are there; they know it's fair," said Abrahamson, borrowing a line from Milwaukee County's juror appreciation program, which was established in 2007.

Each county takes the initiative to recognize jurors in its own way -- some activities are as simple as providing jurors with snacks or extra coffee and hanging a "thank you" banner in the courthouse lobby. Other celebrations are a bit more elaborate, involving visits with jurors by justices, judges, clerks of circuit court. Several counties will issue press releases or submit letters to the editor, thanking jurors for their service.

Contact the clerk of circuit court for more specific information about activities that may be planned in a particular county.

Among some of the planned activities:

  • In Forest County, Circuit Court Judge Leon D. Stenz, Clerk of Circuit Court Penny Carter, and District Attorney Charles Simono marched in a parade in Crandon on Aug. 31, displaying an 8-foot-by-4-foot banner and tossing notepads, buttons, magnets and Tootsie Rolls. The group also was scheduled to visit three schools and three senior centers to discuss the importance of jurors during September.
  • In Manitowoc County, the county board approved a proclamation designating September as Juror Appreciation Month. Clerk of Circuit Court Lynn Zigmunt recorded a radio public service announcement, thanking jurors for their service. And, various premium items, including magnets and bookmarks, are being distributed to jurors.
  • In Dane County, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, Justice Patience Drake Roggensack and Chief Judge C. William Foust will meet with prospective jurors on selected days to thank them for their service. A juror appreciation banner will be hung at the courthouse to mark the occasion and premium items, including magnets and tote bags will be distributed to jurors.
  • In Milwaukee County, Chief Judge Jeffrey A. Kremers is scheduled to appear on a radio show to discuss jury service. Some passes to county attractions, including the zoo and museum will be made available to jurors.
  • In Calumet County, the county board passed a resolution and banners and posters have been hung in the lobbies and jury room.
  • At the Waukesha County Courthouse, premium items will be distributed, banners and posters will be hung, staff will wear "We Appreciate Jurors" buttons and cookies will be served.
  • In Green County, Circuit Court Judges James R. Beer and Thomas J. Vale have written letters to the editor, thanking jurors for service and helping to uphold the right to a trial by jury.
  • In Rock County, judges and lawyers will greet jurors and thank them for their service.
  • In St. Croix County, an open house will be held at the courthouse to show appreciation for jurors from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sept. 25.
The statewide juror appreciation program was initiated by the Chief Judges Subcommittee on Juror Treatment and Selection.

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