Belmont County secures $108K grant to revamp its jury system
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County has secured approximately $108,000 in grant funding to revamp its jury system.
Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato announced Thursday that the county had secured the grant through the Ohio Supreme Court for the purchase and implementation of the new jury management system.
“We will have a system where the potential jurors can check the internet if the trial is going forward or not. This is going to save a lot of work, a lot of trouble and a lot of hassle for both me and Judge (John) Vavra, and for the Clerk of Courts Office and for the potential jurors themselves,” Fregiato said.
Clerk of Courts Cynthia Fregiato and Common Pleas Court Administrator Laura Zupko applied for and helped secure the grant for the county. Cynthia Fregiato said in addition to the funding, the county received an additional $18,000 for the program hardware.
“We’re excited to announce that we have not only received the original amount we requested, but we also received an additional $18,000 for the hardware that we would need for the implementation of the software,” she said.
Through the Jurymark system, jurors will be able to view their status online, sign up for text message alerts, request to be excused and have an immediate notification of their service for jury duty, she said.
The software will also aid in the Clerk of Courts Office running more efficiently, she said.
“The Clerk of Courts Office, this will help the staff immensely. We will be able to do a lot of creating juror pools, keeping notes, documents, edit and excuse jurors from one screen, show the status of a juror, configure necessary reports based upon our needs, and track juror’s attendance and help generate payments for the jury,” she said.
Clerk Fregiato said the software will keep information on the computer, potentially allowing the office to diminish or even eliminate the use of paper, thus saving money.
Common Pleas Judge John Vavra said the court sends out around 1,800 questionnaires and other information to prospective jurors every year.
“This will eliminate that mailing potentially. In addition to the financial benefit by the fact that this is a grant to the county, this will also save a great deal of money in the future in terms of mailing costs and other fixed expenses that the clerk’s office has to bear,” Vavra said.
Cynthia Fregiato said the program will significantly change the jury selection process in Belmont County.
“The office would like to thank the Ohio Supreme Court for this opportunity to advance technology in our county and also, a special thank you to Court Administrator Laura Zupko, Judge Vavra and Judge Fregiato for their support of this program,” she said.
Vavra said the residents of Belmont County will be the primary beneficiaries of the new program.
“This will make things so much easier for them. It’s a great sacrifice to be asked to serve jury duty in the first place but this will certainly help to alleviate that sacrifice to some extent,” he said.
The technology should be fully installed and implemented by Jan. 31.