In 1998, the California Legislature designated the second full week in May each year to honor the important contributions of citizens who serve on juries, making the right to trial by jury possible. This year marks the 17th Anniversary of Juror Appreciation Week. For those of you who have served on a jury, CALA would like to applaud you.

Jury service contributes to our American system of justice and is an important form of service to local communities. Today, we express our appreciation for you: thank you to the millions of citizens in California and the United States for making our country a symbol of justice.

At the same time, it is unacceptable that some Americans avoid serving on a jury when called. Serving as a juror is integral to our democracy and guaranteeing that we are judged by a jury of our peers, and we must all participate to ensure it works.

To address the concerns of those summoned, the judicial branch has continued to work to improve jury service to benefit both those using the court system and the millions of Californians who serve each year. In fact, approximately 80 percent of prospective jurors complete service in a single day. Some other improvements are as follows:

• Ideals Made Real, a 14-minute jury service orientation video, provides an overview of the juror experience. In addition, the judicial branch has produced information for employers, as well as an online resource called the Court and the Community, which provides information on dress code, court amenities, and frequently asked questions for jurors.

To quote California Supreme Court Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, “Trial by jury is one of the fundamental ideals of American democracy; serving as jurors reminds us that these ideals exist only as long as individual citizens are willing to uphold them.”

So, during Juror Appreciation Week, we ask everyone to answer the call to serve. When that jury summons arrives in the mail, do your civic duty and play your part in our judicial system.