SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Residents of Smith County will soon be able to skip an unnecessary trip to the Smith County Courthouse when county officials roll out its new electronic jury selection system.
Smith County commissioners court approved the move to update its current computer systems to include a new jury selection system that would allow citizens the ability to enter exemptions and disqualifications via the internet, instead of visiting the courthouse with eligible jurors.
“They can get online, they can enter all of the information they usually use to fill in their summons card when they get there,” said Penny Clarkston, Smith County district clerk. “So they don’t have to worry about that card; worry about having the correct information.”
The software would also update the county’s data system to include more accurate information; for example, it would stop the county from sending summons to faulty or non-deliverable addresses, Clarkston said.
“That’s going to save us a lot of money for the county, as far as postage and that type of thing,” Clarkston added. “What it enables us to do is get the information we need from the jurors so we can take that and provide it to the courts very quickly, so the jurors don’t have to sit for an hour-and-a-half for the courts to get that information and evaluate it. They’d do all that ahead of time."
The county’s upgraded system as a whole will go live in early August, Clarkston said, but the county hopes to roll out the electronic jury selection system by June to allow them time to work out any kinks ahead of time.
However, Clarkston said she already sees the process smoothly and efficiently working.
“The main thing is that it’s going to save [citizens] time, and it’s user-friendly for them,” Clarkston explained. “If it means not having to come down to the courthouse, or keeps them from sitting for hours, you know, and getting reminders for jury duty... that’s what I’m mostly excited about: just saving our citizens time and money."