Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: email@example.com
Jurors in North Carolina who may have been traumatized during the course of a criminal trial can now get counseling following their service, thanks to a new statewide pilot program. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Jury Assistance Program (managed by the state Administrative Office of the Courts) allows jurors to call or make an appointment with a mental health professional to receive a confidential assessment. Once the initial evaluation is complete, the counselor can provide the juror with additional resources included in their health plan or available at a low cost. Jurors will also receive unlimited access to a mental health website already used by state employees. Due to budgetary constraints, the presiding judge must determine that the testimony given during a trial warrants jury access to these services. Presently, only Alaska and Texas have enacted statewide legislation to provide similar services, though Texas leaves the funding up to individual court systems. A handful of other states report that select counties provide jury counseling, according to a 2007 survey done by the National Center for State Courts.