Forest County Court staff pose with their banner
before marching in the "Brush Run Parade."
Sept. 25, 2013 – Judges and court staff from across the state are going to great lengths this month to recognize local jurors in honor of Juror Appreciation Month.
Juror Appreciation Month, along with its theme Jurors Serve Justice; Justice Serves Us All, was formalized in August by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Governor’s Office and both houses of the state Legislature.
At least 17 counties in eight districts participated in the event during the month of September, with a few counties going above and beyond. One county went as far as doling out treats at a local parade and providing jurors with homemade cookies and cakes.
“This year, as well as last year, Forest County participated in Juror Appreciation Month by walking in the large ‘Brush Run Parade’ in Crandon,” said Forest County Circuit Court Judge Leon Stenz. “Along the parade route we handed out pens and notepads.”
The pens and notepads said “Forest County Appreciates their Jurors.” Stenz said that the community really appreciates the court’s acknowledgment of the jurors.
“We try to do something like this each year, in an effort to demonstrate, to not only the jurors, but the general public, that their service to the community is appreciated,” Stenz said.
Forest County Clerk of Court Penny Carter bakes cookies and cakes for every jury trial. Carter and Stenz also meet with jurors to thank them for their service, and to ensure that the facilities were up to par and that their overall experiences in court were enjoyable.
“The jurors really seem to appreciate this extra attention,” Stenz said. “Many people and families have suffered and sacrificed so that we can enjoy the right to a jury trial, and most citizens recognize that by appearing and agreeing to serve as a juror, they honor that sacrifice. Without the service of our jurors, the system of justice we enjoy simply would not work.”
Katie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at email@example.com, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.
Manitowoc County is also a major participant in Juror Appreciation Month, each year garnering media attention and using it to commend former and current jurors on their commitment to public service.
This month, County Clerk of Court Lynn Zigmunt recorded a 30-second PSA, had a proclamation drafted, submitted an editorial to the local paper and provided jurors with special “thank you” treats.
“I was a guest on a local radio program and spoke about the importance of appreciating our local jurors,” said Zigmunt. “I also used the time to educate the public on the juror selection process, in an effort to help reduce some of the apprehension surrounding jury duty.”
Zigmunt attributes the success of the jury process to her fellow court staff from around the state. She explained that due credit goes out to the knowledgeable and experienced court staff “who not only understand the full scope of their duties, but acknowledge the boundaries they must operate within.”
Juror Appreciation Month was first celebrated in Wisconsin in 2008 as a way for the court system to formally recognize the hard work of local jurors, a feat that the court said is sometimes overlooked during the year.
The Wisconsin Court System has reported that over 80,000 people participated in jury duty in 2012.