Chris Daniel’s Interview, part 2 (in which he waffles on terror and fudges on jury duty)

In his interview with David Jennings (part 1 of my analysis), Daniel talks about some of the conceivable problems with making public documents publicly available (he describes online access to documents as “online filing”; two different things).

Some of them are nonproblems, because only lawyers have access to the documents (as in family law cases); the rest are problems on which Loren Jackson’s tech people are already working (“Jackson said his office is working to develop a system that does on-screen redaction without altering documents,” Houston Chronicle, September 23, 2010).

Oh, and Daniel seems to have abandoned his role in the Global War on Terror (after Jennings told him it was stupid?) in favor of a little sexual-predator hysteria, always popular with the SWRVs. But Mr. Daniel, if you’re not going to fight the GWOT as District Clerk, who will?

Daniel also seems to have given up on building a new county parking garage for jurors. He is, however, still concerned about jury duty problems:

[T]hey basically send out about 10,000 notices and for every 10,000 notices, they get 400 back. And there is necessarily a problem if you have to send out 10,000 notices and 400 show up and you don’t even need the full 400. Not even close.

In fact, 24% of the 11,600 people summoned for jury duty each week show up. Call it more than 2,500 people—more than six times more jurors than Daniel would wish. Not even close, indeed.

Out of the remaining 9,000 or so jurors, more than 5,500 file for exemptions, reschedule, are deceased, or are otherwise accounted for. Only about 28% are no-shows.

Aside from that, though, Daniel should know that it’s the judges, and not the District Clerk, who decide how many jurors to summon. In January 2009 the District Clerk was, at the judges’ order, summoning 13,050 jurors per week. Loren Jackson boosted the turnout rate to a record 24%, and then judges cut the number of summonses to 12,300 a week in January 2010. In July 2010 the district judges ordered the number cut to 11,600.

One of Daniel’s plans is to send jury summonses by certified mail, “so there is proof the prospective juror received it.” This is beyond lightweight; it verges on the moronic. To be able to prove that a particular person received a summons, you would need first-class postage ($0.44), restricted delivery ($4.50), and signature confirmation ($1.50). That’s an extra $6.00 per jury summons. For the cost of sending 11,600 summonses by simple first-class mail every week, Daniel will be able to send only 792 summonses “so there is proof the prospective juror received it.” If he wants to send 2,500 of his magical proof-the-prospective-juror-received-it summonses (to get the same turnout as we have now, assuming that everyone summoned turns up), he’ll pay $16,100 a week, almost $11,000 a week more than the cost of the current method.

Is it too much to wish that a candidate for public office actually know something about the office for which he is running?

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