The Office of Jury Commissioner (OJC) is the department of the Supreme Judicial Court that is responsible for the summoning of jurors to the jury courts of the Commonwealth.
The OJC is led by the Jury Commissioner, who serves under the guidance and supervision of the Jury Management Advisory Committee (JMAC).
The JMAC, which is made up of six judges selected by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, is a standing committee of the SJC and is charged with advising and assisting its Chief Justice in the oversight of the OJC.
History of the OJC
The OJC started in 1979 as a pilot program in Middlesex County, operating under a federal grant. The Office of Jury Commissioner of Middlesex County administered the One Day or One Trial system in Middlesex County only, while the other judicial districts relied on their county governments to supply jurors to their courts.
In 1980, the Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Commonwealth v. Bastarache, 382 Mass. 86 (1980) , in which the Court found that the juror selection system for one of the counties of the Commonwealth excluded people between the ages of 18 and 34, who comprised 36% of the population of that county. The court determined that underrepresentation of any age group should not continue, and endorsed the random selection technique for juror selection.
Shortly thereafter, the Massachusetts legislature voted to expand the Middlesex County juror selection process into all the counties of the Commonwealth ( Chapter 298 of the Acts of 1982 ).
The jury statute was substantially revised as Chapter 234A of the Massachusetts General Laws, and the Office of Jury Commissioner for Middlesex County became the Office of Jury Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Under the supervision of the Supreme Judicial Court, the counties began converting to the One Day or One Trial system. By 1988, all fourteen judicial districts in Massachusetts were operating under the new system, making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to adopt the One Day or One Trial system in all courts.
The OJC Today
In 2005, the OJC began a statewide technological upgrade that automated many of the processes of the jury system, resulting in more efficient administration of justice and greater convenience for those summoned for jury duty. The Massachusetts Juror Service Website and juror check-in by bar-code scanning are two examples of these improvements.
Today, some of the functions of the OJC include the following:
- Creation of fourteen Master Juror Lists
- Summoning of all jurors who serve in the state courts of Massachusetts (approximately 600,000 to 800,000 summonses issued per year)
- Scheduling the required number of jurors at each jury court in the Commonwealth (approximately 400 to 2,000 per day)
- Handling up to 1,000 inquiries per day through the Juror Helpline and the Massachusetts Juror Service Website
- Providing information to jurors by mail, the Juror Helpline, and the Massachusetts Juror Service Website
- Educating the public about the jury system through the Public Outreach Program
- Providing those who have served with certificates of service and any required state compensation (Trial Jurors, Grand Jurors)
- Investigating complaints of jurors whose employers have allegedly harassed or refused to compensate them for jury duty (Trial Jurors, Grand Jurors)
- Pursuing delinquent jurors who have failed to perform or complete their jury service
The OJC strives to provide superior service to those who have been summoned to jury duty, as well as those who have questions about our jury system. Please contact us at 1-800-THE-JURY (1-800-843-5879)(within Massachusetts only) or firstname.lastname@example.org if you require assistance.