I have thought about the jury duty problem for many years and the recent articles featuring the problems our courts have in obtaining jurors, as well as Mr. Clayton's letter, brought it into focus once again.
Jury duty is important and an obligation of each and every citizen in our country as a part of the democratic process that our country is modeled upon.
Now, how can we make it work? The way we currently do it does not work. We need to re-evaluate how to handle this process. We are a state of many part-time residents, as well as those who must work for a living. There are periods of travel and peak seasons in most jobs.
I fully believe that time and money can be saved by handling the process differently. Each qualified adult person should be sent a form to fill out before leaving each year. The forms would be due in February of each year. Allowing the citizen to select personal availability to serve would provide a pool of names for a given period that can be used to call prospective jurors on a monthly basis.
My reasoning for this is as follows: It makes sense that construction folk are most often available in the winter months. Post office workers are too busy in November, December and January. Transportation folk are busier in summer and during storms, but may be available during the spring or late fall. Retirees who travel can give the months they do not travel. Folks whose jobs depend on tourists may have springtime free. Teachers may be free during a break period. Employers would not be paying for jury duty during peak periods, employees who do not have jury duty benefits could pick a time when work is slow, retirees could plan for their times to serve and lawyers would have willing jurors which would better facilitate the court's needs. This would save money for employees, employers and taxpayers.
I realize our present methods on how courts are run are probably frozen in place, but as a citizen who cares, I think it is always good to re-evaluate how we do things and look for better ways to accomplish a task. Jury duty should be a positive act for each of us as citizens, instead of a dreaded task that irritates when the notice is sent and you know you have no choice but to be there or else.
Alice Natale, Payson
Editor's note: This letter has been shortened to fit within the 400-word limit for letters to the editor.