A major overhaul of Georgia’s jury system will expand the local jury pool to include every citizen who legally is eligible.
According to Teresa Harper, Clerk of the Superior Court of Upson County, every resident who is at least 18 years old and is a citizen of the county who votes or has a driver’s license will be eligible for jury duty starting July 1, 2012.
Georgia was the only state remaining that required “forced balancing” of jury pools as a means for ensuring that, as jury pools were created by local jury commissions in the state’s 159 counties, the pools were not skewed according to gender or race. The new system is designed to eliminate any opportunity for discrimination on any grounds.
The methodology currently used for selecting grand jurors also will change.
“Essentially, we will only have one jury pool consisting of persons who may be summoned for service as jurors for jury trials and grand jury,” Harper said. “This is a radical change since, for over 200 years, only the names of persons deemed by jury commissioners to be the ‘most intelligent, most experienced and most upright citizens’ of the county were placed in the grand-jury pool. How this translates for local citizens is that they are subject to be summoned for service as either a grand or trial juror.”
The role of the Board of Jury Commissioners is also going to change. After July 1, the role of the jury commissioners ultimately will be to approve jurors’ requests for permanent excusal from jury service. By law, those reasons include death, non-residency and permanent medical and/or mental infirmaries attested to by a medical doctor and/or psychologist or psychiatrist. Persons who are convicted felons and who have not had their civil rights restored are automatically disqualified from jury service.
Harper said she is working very closely with the jury commissioners to make the transition to the new list as smooth as possible. The only foreseen inconvenience to the public is the possibility that some people who have been permanently excused from jury service due to age or medical reasons, may inadvertently be summoned for jury duty. Harper asks that if you receive a summons for jury duty and have already completed an affidavit to be removed from jury duty, to please notify the clerk’s office.
If you would like more information regarding the new jury list, please call Mrs. Harper at 706-647-7835 or by email at email@example.com