Jury service is crucial to the judicial system in Harris County, where some 3,000 people report for duty each week. And it doesn't matter who you are, you'll get a summons, even if your name is Harris County district clerk Chris Daniel:
"While it's ironic, it's also pretty neat that elected officials serve too. I need to set a good example. Even though I'm in charge of the jury process, it's also my responsibility to serve my constitutional obligation to these folks that are here, to receive benefit from the justice system today."
In the past, the turnout rate for jury service has been about 20-percent, but Daniel says a new jury plaza building that opened last year has increased that rate:
"It has. In fact, as we increase more people showing up for jury service, it's actually saving taxpayer dollars. So we send fewer summons, because more people are arriving. And therefore, we're spending less money on paper, less money on postage, and we're ultimately saving taxpayer dollars."
Citizens are allowed to bring laptops, PDAs, or other wireless-ready devices, thanks to the free WI-FI connection in the building:
"I think it's because the building is more centrally located. It is a newer building, and it has easier access to the courtrooms, therefore people aren't waiting in the rain, they're not waiting in the sun to get to the courtrooms, and they can get there immediately through the tunnel system that connects all four courthouses."
Expanded online services allow you to reschedule your jury service for up to six months, You can find more information at www.hcdistrictclerk.com.