---- — CONCORD (AP) — The New Hampshire Judicial Branch is about to launch the jury selection process into the digital age.
Officials say the new electronic jury management system will be in place in time for trials in Grafton and Rockingham counties early next month.
Potential jurors will still be sent paper summonses to jury duty by mail, but the summonses will include a juror candidate number and instructions on how to log on to the online system.
Candidates may then complete and file juror questionnaires electronically. Court staff will then compile the information and transmit it electronically to lawyers and judges.
Jurors who don't have computers will be able to use terminals in each of the Superior Court locations.
Judicial officials say the new system will dramatically reduce paperwork and labor and postage costs. The new system will also allow court officials to take attendance of jurors using a bar scanner system. Court staff can also send jurors email alerts on schedule changes and weather cancellations — eliminating the need to make telephone calls to each juror.
Last year, more than 18,000 jury summonses went out and jurors were chosen for 253 criminal and 51 civil trials.
Potential jurors are chosen randomly from lists of licensed drivers, non-driver identification card holders and registered voters.
Lawmakers in 2012 appropriated $500,000 for software needed to implement the new system.
"We are grateful that the legislature recognized the need to modernize our jury management system, which not only saves time for court staff and lawyers, but also benefits members of the public who are asked to give of their valuable time to serve as jurors," Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau said.