Instead of playing phone tag with government officials over a simple question, residents can now get answers from the Forsyth County Clerk of State and Superior Courts as fast as sending a text takes.
On Aug. 12, the clerk’s office introduced EZ Texting, a new way of communicating with the hope of satisfying the public’s urgent, yet easily answerable, questions.
All a person needs is a cell phone (no, texting from a landline still won’t work) and to text “ClerkofCourt” to 313131. One the text is received, someone from the clerk’s office “will assist you by email or phone,” their website says.
The clerk’s office also sends a confirmation text back, ensuring they received your request.
Clerk of Courts Greg Allen said they created the service to more efficiently serve the public.
“Trading voicemails back and forth frustrates the public,” Allen said. “People these days want an answer right away. So we made this, trying to come up with a better way to respond [to people.]”
The idea was born earlier this year, and after some testing, the office, located in the new Forsyth County Courthouse, put it to use.
Thus far, Allen said, it seems to be working.
His staff has also positively responded to the service.
In addition to the new texting service, the clerk’s office is changing the way they are paying jurors, Allen said.
Instead of being written a check for their service, jurors will be given debit cards containing their full payment. These, Allen said, can be used anywhere – from gas stations to movie theaters to grocery stores – and can also be exchanged for cash.
Jurors are generally paid $25 for each day they are required to serve.
The hope is the cards will make jury duty a little easier on those who are not being compensated by their employer for missing work due to service.
While it is against federal law to fire or demote an employee for serving as a juror, Georgia law does not require jurors be paid his or her full salary while serving.
Some companies, do, however, compensate their employees for missed days, and it is an employer’s decision how to handle juror compensation.
Allen said these cards will not change that process, nor are they intended to bypass an employer’s compensation policy.
He also said other counties, such as Gwinnett, have been using this system for years with few complaints.
Should any issue arise, a toll-free number will be provided with the cards.
Like EZ Texting, the payment change is centered on efficiency, as jurors will receive the card on their last day of service.
This will eliminate any delay in payment, hopefully, Allen said, leaving the public a less frustrated with county government processes.