When Alaskans are summoned for jury service, they fill out and return a questionnaire that allows court personnel to qualify, defer, or excuse them from service. After historically sending these documents in the mail, the court has switched to using email to send them. In April 2019, the Ketchikan and Palmer courts started sending email summonses and questionnaires; Fairbanks and Glennallen soon followed. By November of 2019, courts statewide were sending these jury documents by email.
Potential juror email addresses are provided by the Permanent Fund Dividend office, as is all other potential juror information. If the email is not responded to, the court mails a postcard.
Emailing jury summonses is another way the court system is reducing expenses and improving efficiencies for jurors and court staff. In 2019, 24,888 people appeared for both trial and grand jury duty in Alaska, with 10,829 in Anchorage alone. The majority of Alaskans summoned as jurors serve as trial jurors and are asked to hear evidence presented at a trial, decide the facts, apply the facts to the law explained by the judge, and return a verdict. Some Alaskans in twelve communities throughout the state are summoned to serve as grand jurors, which is different from service on a trial jury. There is no judge involved in the grand jury process. A prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jury, which decides whether there is enough evidence to charge a person with a crime. If the grand jury decides to charge a crime, then the prosecutor decides whether to take the case to a trial where a trial jury will decide if the person is guilty of the crime.
Always check emails to make sure links go to courts.alaska.gov and not a fake page. The Alaska Court System is not aware of any phishing or scams on Alaskan jurors by email, but there have been many instances in which scammers call Alaskans asking for fine payments, which the court system does not do. The login screen for the online juror questionnaire asks for the last four digits of a potential juror’s social security number, but not the entire number.
If you have concerns about the legitimacy of a particular summons, contact your local court.
For more information, visit https://courts.alaska.gov/jury.