Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jury Duty for the Digital World

I got to reading an article today in the New York Times about how jury duty is becoming a hardship to those serving (article can be found here http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/us/02jury.html?_r=1&hp). This is a fact that I have never spent much time looking into, but it does make sense. For me myself going to school and working on the weekends part-time in retail, a month or so away from work would pretty much leave me broke. How do they expect people working from day to day to make a living to take a month away from their job to serve on a jury. If I am not at work I am not getting paid, which is true for most of the people in society in today's world.

This got me thinking about the way we handle jury duty in this country. It is a digital world, why are we still expecting people to show up for jury duty? With all the technology we have, it seems so primative to expect people to drive downtown to a courthouse. While I realize court is not supposed to be "fun", why have we not brought these courts up the the 21st century!

That's when I got the idea! We have digital conferences for large businesses were people all over the country meet to swap ideas. So, why can't we do the same for courts? If they set up trials over the internet, like in the form of a streaming video for the jury it would eliminate a lot of the hassles associated with this article. It would be like CourtTV but for the jury members. To me it seems so simplistic an idea, that is seems almost idiotic we have not set up a system like this already.

I have thought about the more practical aspects of how you would monitor these jury members to make sure they were actively involved in the trial. There would have to be some kind of system involved; however, I think there is an easy solution to this. If there was a device made like a net book for jury members to use during the trials I think it would solve this. This "eCourt" as I have named it, would basically be very limited. It cannot access any web browser or allow any personal information to be entered onto it. Basically it would be little more then a small portable dvd player that would stream the trail live to the jury members home. The jury box would still exist but in a different way. Instead of 12 chairs it would have a neat row of monitors. The monitors would display the jury members webcam located on the top of their "eCourt" laptop. These laptops would be distributed to the jury members prior to the trail and collected at the end.

I know this all seems very far out there, but these are tough economic times. Everything else is going digital and it is only a matter of time before something will have to change in the court systems. Why not make them digital now? It will save time and resources later and make the jury duty process more streamlined and convinent for all those involved.