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3:29 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Jury Duty Will Change Friday as New Laws Take Effect

Starting Friday, jurors serving at Tulsa County District Court and across the state will have a slightly different oath to swear and more time between jury duty.
Credit KWGS File Photo

Amendments going into effect Friday to Oklahoma's laws on jurors will change the oath, how it may be sworn and how much time people get off from jury duty.

Tulsa County District Court Administrator Vicki Cox said changes to the oath have been in the works for some time. 

"The oath had some odd language in it about mental status, and the judges had long hoped that, that would get changed," she said.

The last sentence of the oath currently reads, "I further swear or affirm that I am not now adjudicated as being mentally incompetent and that I am not mentally retarded." 

Starting Friday, it will read, "I further swear or affirm that I am not now adjudicated as being mentally incompetent and that I do not otherwise have a mental condition which makes me incapable of performing jury service."

The statement, "I state under penalty of perjury under the laws of Oklahoma that the following is true and correct," has also been added.

Lawmakers included a provision for juror oaths to be signed electronically. Cox said that will be a component of a new statewide case management system. There is a potential vendor in place, but it will take some time before Oklahoma's larger counties get the system.

"They're getting ready to do a pilot on a small county, probably within the next 30 to 60 days," Cox said. "Tulsa County, and then Oklahoma County — the two big counties — will be after that.

"It will be within the next year, is what I'm hopeful for."

The other change to the state's juror laws going into effect Friday increases the amount of time people get between required jury service. The law currently gives people two years off after they have served jury duty. On Nov. 1, that increases to five years.

People can still serve before five years if they want to and their county asks. Cox said this change could put Tulsa County District Court in a bind.

"I think eventually we'll end up having to summon more people in order to have a sufficient pool available for all the trials that go on," she said.

Finding enough jurors is already a problem for many courts because people don't keep up with address changes and either never get a summons or don't respond.