Our Opinion: On board with shuttle service for jurors
Thursday, March 21, 2013
“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley.”
Lyrics by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
From “Meet Me in St. Louis”
If our readers were expecting an editorial fuss about providing trolley service for jurors, we’re sorry to disappoint.
The Cole County Courthouse has become a recent stop for the local Trolley Company as it shuttles potential jurors to and from a parking lot about three blocks away.
The service was started on a trial (pardon the pun) basis, according to Cole County Circuit Clerk Dawnel Davidson.
“We want to provide safety, security and convenience for our jurors,” the clerk explained.
Davidson said this is the first time the shuttle service has been offered. It began as a result of recent snowfall and following two incidents where prospective jurors suffered cardiac problems. The walk from the parking area to the courthouse is about three blocks, uphill.
Cole County maintains two jury panels of about 100 members each. Available parking around the courthouse is scarce. As a courtesy to the county, Jefferson City allows prospective jurors to park, at no charge, in its lot on East McCarty Street across from the Red Cross office.
The cost to the county clerk for six days of trolley service was about $450. That translates to $75 a day, or 75 cents for each juror. The clerk’s budget for this year is $64,950.
We find the clerk’s decision to offer the shuttle service reasonable.
Jury duty is a civic responsibility, but — let’s face it — it can be an inconvenience for members of the jury panel.
The 100 panel members are questioned by lawyers and 80-plus, depending on the number of alternates, are dismissed. At times, a settlement or plea agreement is reached before or during a trial, and selected jurors are dismissed.
When that happens, inconvenience may be compounded by frustration.
Providing a safe, efficient and timely shuttle for jury panels is not frivolous. It is a courteous way to let prospective jurors know their civic duty is valuable and appreciated.