Join Everyday Law and our guest, Jodi Luka, the Lake County Jury Coordinator, as we discuss her work in organizing the logistics and humanizing the jury process, taking the jury from hoping to evade service at all costs to at 98% satisfaction rate with the experience.

Jodi Luka is the Jury Coordinator of the Lake County Jury Commission. She organizes the logistics and helps to humanize the process of those summoned to serve on a jury in Lake County. Though many people think of jury service as something to evade, feedback has been 98% positive among those who have served on a jury in Lake County.Luka grew up in Miami, Florida where she was introduced to sign language in high school. That experience led to her degree in sign language interpretation. She worked as an interpreter for 15 years doing free-lance work and a position at Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf. Luka worked in a variety of settings including classrooms, courtrooms, medical settings and any other possible life event that might require the services of an interpreter such as wedding, birth and death. Her most challenging work was at trials. Her work as an American sign language interpreter required a broad depth of knowledge on almost any given topic.

Luka immensely enjoyed her work as an interpreter. However, advances in technology has changed the world of interpreters such that much interpretation work is now done via call centers and Skype-like settings. Though cheaper and more efficient in some ways, this type of interpreting can alter meanings as some nuances can get lost in translation that are not conducted in person.

Contrary to popular opinion, jury lists are not drawn up exclusively through voter ID lists. In fact, 95% of voter lists, which are sent out yearly, come from the Secretary of State’s Office. Anyone over age 70 who is summoned to serve may decline to serve with no questions asked. The Jury Commission works with those summoned to resolve any hardships such as schedules, work or child care issues. Though citizens have a duty to serve when summoned, the Commission realizes that there can be a sacrifice of time and money for the jurors. The average person serves on a jury once in 30 years.

Once summoned to serve, jurors are required to show up Monday at 8 AM in the Jury Room of the Courthouse. They are given an orientation about their service by Luka and a Lake County judge. There are ground rules; once chosen, a juror is no longer a member of the public and may not go into the Law Library or any courtroom other than the one they are serving as juror in, no drinking of alcohol during the lunch break and no posting on social media during the trial. The average trial in Lake County is 3 days.

A jury trial is an example of true democracy as 12 individuals are making a decision directly affecting the lives of others. Even jurors who are picked to serve on a jury on a case that settles before trial have still played a valuable role as it is very probable that the very act of selecting a jury pushed a case to settle. Additionally, being summoned to serve on a jury gives people a better understanding of our judiciary and the important part jurors play in that system.