Theresa Farley / Debra DeBlasio
The duty of the Jury Commissioners is to oversee the process by
which jurors are selected. The president judge of the Court of Common
Pleas is the chairperson of the commission. There are two elected
jury commissioners, serving four-year terms; they may not be members
of the same political party. Annually 50,000 prospective jurors are
randomly selected by computer from registered voters, drivers over
18 years old, and the telephone directory. This number provides over
40,000 jurors who can serve without impediment or hardship. The Court
of Common Pleas of Bucks County has a firm, but fair, policy for
excusing jurors. It is applied to all requests, irrespective
of one's occupation.
The jury selection process in Bucks County was adopted in 1981 featuring
the one-day/one trial system. This saves the county thousands
of dollars each year in juror costs.; The majority of counties
in Pennsylvania use the one day-one trial system or a variation thereof.
The compensation for jury service is set by the Pennsylvania Legislature. A
Juror receives $9 a day and 17 cents per mile for the first three
days of service. On the fourth and subsequent days, a juror
is paid $25 a day and 17 cents per mile. The Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania reimburses the county at the rate of 80 percent of the
per diem and mileage beginning with the fourth day of service.
Bucks County schedules 17 jury trial sessions per year. Fifteen
of these are for nine days beginning on a Monday and ending Thursday
of the following week. Generally, two sessions are for one
week beginning on Monday and ending on Friday. However, some
years there is only one session for one week.
The county uses a summons mailer, which includes a juror questionnaire
that must be returned to the Office of Jury Selection within five days
of receipt. There are two types of jurors. Regular jurors
have been given a definite date to report for jury duty which is indicated
on the front of the summons. Standby jurors are
given a toll free telephone number to call to see if their juror number
has been selected. There is a recorded message that explains
clearly everything required of a standby juror.