“You Complete Justice”: Harris County District Clerk Office Unveils Campaign to Enhance Jury Representation

On Tuesday, at the Jury Assembly Plaza,  the Harris County District Clerk Office unveiled its groundbreaking initiative, the “You Complete Justice” campaign. This campaign moves to address disparities in juror representation and elevate awareness about the vital role of jury service. 

Harris County, known for its cultural diversity, houses a mosaic of communities. However, despite this diversity, disparities persist in the representation of minorities in jury appearances.

Distinguished speakers at the event included Ms. Marilyn Burgess, the Harris County District Clerk, Judge Rabeea Collier from the 113th Civil Court and chair of the Jury Committee of the Harris County Board of District Judges, Bishop James Dixon II from The Community of Faith Church, Dayana Iza representing Mi Familia Vota, and Al Maldonado from LULAC.

“If we want to represent ourselves in any part of our democracy, Jury Duty is part of that, and I don’t think we talk about it enough. I think that if we start talking about it enough, just like we do with voting, we might be able to increase participation,” said Iza from Mi Familia Vota.

According to their press release, Latinos, constituting 33% of the county’s population, are only represented at 26% in jury appearances. Similarly, African Americans, comprising 22% of the population, are represented at a mere 17% in jury appearances.

“Latinos are underrepresented across the board with everything,” Iza continued. “I’m very excited to be a part of this movement to get Latinos to start participating more, I do think that these initiatives could help get the voice out. More than anything, educating our communities, letting them know about the importance and being a part of what the district clerk is doing. These incentives with the money, the parking, the coffee, these things could help.” 

A key component of the initiative is a significant pay increase for jurors, recognizing their invaluable contribution to the judicial process. Since October 1st, 2023, compensation for the 1st day of jury service increased from $6 to $30, with subsequent days, if selected to serve, rising from $40 to $58. Additionally, jury service pay is now uploaded to a debit card approximately 2 days after service is completed.

The campaign will leverage digital media platforms to disseminate information and encourage prompt response to jury summons, aiming to cultivate a culture of civic duty within Harris County.

“To my knowledge, there are no other jurisdictions that are doing an outreach campaign such as what we are doing with this digital messaging,” said Ms. Burgess, the Harris County District Clerk.

“We also have plans to go to Harris County Commissioners Court to help us get a larger budget for an outreach campaign in the new fiscal year. It’s just like that jury pay increase, if nobody knows about it it can’t have any impact. We need something that can reach all of the citizens of Harris County,” concluded Ms. Burgess.  

As the “You Complete Justice” campaign gains momentum, the Harris County District Clerk Office invites individuals and organizations alike to champion a more representative and equitable jury system.

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