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District Clerk

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    Marilyn Burgess

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    Roslyn "Rozzy" Shorter

Biographical Information

Please address what you will do to increase the percentage of people who respond to their jury summons, so that prospective jurors represent the broadest possible cross-section of our diverse community.

What changes can the District Clerk make in the jury summons process and in the coordination between court jurisdictions to better accommodate the individual needs of prospective jurors?

What steps will you institute to ensure the efficient administration of all of the services overseen and/or provided by the District Clerk?

Education/Degrees Bachelors of Science Degree from Louisiana State University, Certified Public Accountant, Certified Association Executive, Certified Chamber Executive
Professional Experience 40 yrs financial/administrative experience in for-profit and non-profit arenas. Public accounting & private industry. Controller of Texas PTA 10 years and Executive Director 3 yrs. Chamber of Commerce President 3 yrs. CFO for local company since 2007
Community Involvement Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Finance Committee, Jane's Due Process board member, many Democratic Clubs, PTA life member, and I volunteer at my grandchildren's elementary school.
Campaign Phone (832) 742-5728
The jury summonsing process is a primary duty of this office and one I will take seriously. I firmly believe that having juries that reflect the county’s demographics increases faith and trust in the justice system. The current district clerk – a Republican – has essentially failed to increase the number of African-Americans and Hispanics who appear for jury service, so juries too often have no minorities or few minorities. These juries do not reflect the demographics of Houston, the nation’s most multicultural city. As district clerk, I will reach out to the African-American, Hispanic and other minority communities and work with these communities’ leaders to create effective outreach efforts to bring in more minorities to jury service. I will hire an experienced communications director who knows how to run multimedia public awareness campaigns that get the word out far and wide about the importance of jury service.
The current jury summons process is fairly accommodating in that it allows a person to change the date of jury service three times. That system will stay in place when I become district clerk. People can change the date of jury service over the phone or online. However, these options should be more prominently displayed on the summons. As to court jurisdictions, the process in place now is intended to bring in a demographic cross-section of county residents. A process that summoned only people who lived nearest a specific justice of the peace court could bring in jury panels that do not reflect the county’s demographics. These panels instead would reflect the demographics of the neighborhood around the JP court. With that said, I have lived in Kingwood and know what a hardship it can be to get downtown by 8 am for jury service. I will explore options for staggered start times and assigning prospective jurors who live outside the Beltway to courts closer to where they live.
First, I will be a working district clerk who actually directs the office’s daily operations - not a figurehead. I am committed to personally training in every department within the office. I will not ask any employee to do anything I am not willing to do. I will require supervisors and managers to do the work of the people they lead frequently enough to understand the daily demands their people face. I will restore integrity and sound fiscal management to an office badly in need of such qualities. I will make the county’s electronic court records system more efficient and easier to navigate. I will end the long delays that sometimes occur between the time a filing is submitted and the time that it appears on the District Clerk’s electronic site. I will focus on ending the high turnover and low morale among clerks, especially among the lowest paid clerks who receive less than a living wage. I will increase staff training in an effort to improve customer service.
Education/Degrees Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a Minor in Critical Race Studies -University of Houston- Downtown. Currently pursuing Master’s Degree in Leadership - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Professional Experience Director Non-profit Management, Manger -International Customer Relations Chemical Process Specialist
Community Involvement Vice Chair of the City of Houston Board, Friends of Edgewood, Mentor for the Men of L.E.G.A.C.I. Male Minority Initiative , University of Houston-Downtown Co-chair of the Houston CARES, Mentoring Movement a non-profit organization,
Campaign Email
Campaign Website
Campaign Phone (832) 304-0504
Twitter @RoslynShorter
Understanding that not everyone who receives a summons is statutorily qualified to serve, I will compile multiple jury source lists, sending qualification questionnaires to prospective jurors to determine qualifications, postponements, and excusals. Additionally, I will broaden the county juror source list to reflect the true racial and ethnic population of Harris County.The accuracy of source lists is crucial to ensuring that the initial search for prospective jurors can achieve a fair cross-section of the community.
I will propose implementing an electronic night before pre-juror check-in, to ensure prospective juror services are still needed. One of the main complaints about jury service is the perceived waste of jurors’ time. I will explore the use of technology to reduce or eliminate time spent waiting in the courthouse for a jury demand to develop.The use of pagers or cell phones, prospective jurors could be released to leave the confines of the courthouse with the understanding that they must be willing and able to report for service within a defined period. Jurors could return home or to work to offset the jury compensation Grants from a local civic foundation or bar association could be used for purchasing such equipment. Additionally, I propose providing coupons to jurors to use toward the purchase of identified beverages and snacks at the cafeteria or snack stand. The coupons could be used for the full cost of some designated purchases or to reduce the cost of more expensive items.
As the newly elected District Clerk; my goals are to establish a grassroots District Clerk Office Team representing each section of the office for a monthly meeting to review and suggest how we can optimize internal and external processes. I will collaborate with the other District Clerk staff, judges, court staffs, attorneys, clients, and other customers to see how we can speed up the information they need for their work and ask for their suggestions on how to optimize other work processes. I will work to ensure responsible fiscal decision making and fight to eliminate any unnecessary or non-value added spending. I will analyze the District Clerk Office Cyber/Computer Security Practices and Training and look to enhance and revise standards where needed.