Wisconsin launches juror appreciation program

Madison, Wisconsin - September 4, 2008

The verdict is in, and it’s unanimous among Wisconsin’s three branches of government: September is juror appreciation month.

To mark the occasion, Gov. Jim Doyle has issued a proclamation, and the Senate and Assembly each have approved citations in honor of jurors.

The theme of this year’s event, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin court system and the State Bar of Wisconsin: Jurors Serve Justice; Justice Serves Us All. Circuit courts throughout the state will participate in a variety of activities intended to thank jurors, and to recognize the critical role they play in our democracy and system of justice. During 2007, about 60,000 people reported to courthouses across Wisconsin when summoned for jury duty, and about 20,000 people served as a juror during one of 2,429 trials.

“The Wisconsin court system and the people of this state greatly appreciate the time and dedication of jurors. Without jurors, our system of justice would not function properly. Employers and families of jurors also deserve tremendous thanks for supporting jurors,” said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson.

Abrahamson herself has served on Dane County juries twice during her tenure on the Supreme Court.

“The right to a jury trial is a fundamental component of the American and Wisconsin justice systems, and the willingness of Wisconsin residents to serve as jurors is critical to preserving this right,” Abrahamson added.

The statewide juror appreciation program builds on the success of a Milwaukee County juror appreciation program, which was established last year. This year, many counties will host press conferences and other activities to recognize and thank jurors. Some county boards also have passed local resolutions in support of jurors.

Forest County, for example, has invited past jurors to the courthouse for an open house, which may resemble a wedding reception, said Forest County Clerk of Court Penny Carter. Carter has ordered gold and green M&M Candies, each embossed with the words “Thanks” and “Jurors,” she said. The M&Ms will be wrapped in small mesh bundles tied with “juror appreciation” ribbons and set out next to a cake that will be served, Carter said.

The statewide juror appreciation program was initiated by the Chief Judges Subcommittee on Juror Treatment and Selection and was spearheaded by District Five Court Administrator Gail Richardson. More than two dozen counties have ordered commemorative and display items, such as banners, posters and magnets, Richardson said.

The statewide celebration kicks off with a press conference at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Sept. 3. Abrahamson, along with State Bar President Diane S. Diel, and Chief Judge Kitty K. Brennan, Milwaukee County Circuit Court and other local officials will host that event. Additional press conferences have been scheduled for Waukesha County (2:30 p.m., Sept. 3 at the courthouse) and Dane County (8:15 a.m., Sept. 8 in the jury assembly room at the courthouse).

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