Renee Sevenski
Contributing Writer

Most of us know that May brings us May flowers. What you may not be aware of, is that May 1st marks a celebration of Law Day in the American legal culture and an opportunity to improve the public’s understanding of the judicial system. During this celebration, the importance of the role of juror is also celebrated.

The Judges of the Eaton County Trial Courts and Court Staff would like to extend their sincere gratitude and express thanks to those who answer the call of jury duty. Serving as a juror ensures the right to trial by a jury is guaranteed for all in our community. Jury service is a civic obligation, and the success of our jury system is impacted by those citizens who respond to their summons and questionnaire, check their reporting status and report to court when called to serve.

In March of 2024, all Eaton County Judges invited the public to attend a Judicial Outreach Event. This gathering was organized to welcome local residents to the courthouse and offer them an opportunity to interact with the judiciary and receive an overview of how the Judicial System functions. Building trust and confidence within the community is the foundation for this outreach. As the yearly recognition of Law Day, it is similarly important to highlight one of the largest impacts the community has within the judicial system is their participation in jury service.

I had the privilege to meet with Amy Etzel (Trial Court Administrator), Sydney Grosshans (Jury Coordinator/Clerk), and Gabby Wilkes (Assistant Jury Clerk). They have taken outreach a step further to make the juror process a less intimidating experience. You see, in the end of 2022, the courts implemented a change to the summons process in an effort to streamline and make being summoned for jury duty an easier to understand process. These changes came with a new look to the summons, a reduced term of service from four to two weeks and the ability to respond to a summons from a link on a computer or cell phone.

The summons comes to your home as a mailer, typically seven weeks prior to the start of a juror’s term of service that is identified on the summons mailer. Jurors have 10 days to go online and complete the questionnaire. Jurors unable to complete the questionnaire online can choose to call the jury clerk for assistance in completing the questionnaire over the phone. This simplified process eliminates jurors having to mail back or receive future mailers regarding their service term. The summons mailer has all the information needed, including a phone number to contact the Jury Clerk as well as instructions on deferring a service term date into the future. Included is a photo so you are aware of what this important envelope will look like when it arrives. For those individuals called for service, Eaton County Courts offer a unique Juror Assistance Program that provides support to jurors after their service is completed. These services are confidential and free to any juror who seeks additional support.

Reports of jury scams have been reported on occasion. Please know that the Eaton County Trial Courts will never call to demand a penalty payment for failure to appear for jury duty, nor will they ask for you to wire money. If you have a concern because you have failed to respond to your summons or appear for service, simply contact the jury office by email or phone and they will be happy to assist and put your mind at ease : or call (517) 543-4318.