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Chester County Press

Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners challenges recent law endangering elected office

05/25/2013 12:34AM ● By Brian O

The Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners challenged in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court a bill signed into law on May 6 that gives county commissioners the option of eliminating the elected office of Jury Commissioner.

“We fought and won this battle in court earlier this year and we will fight and win again,” said Larry Thompson, President of the Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners. “This is the second attempt by the Legislature to take unconstitutional action to eliminate an elected office that protects the public and ensures the integrity of our legal system.”

The petition filed in Commonwealth Court by Jury Commissioner attorney Samuel Stretton asks the court to stop the enforcement of Senate Bill 808 and to declare the law unconstitutional. The Commonwealth Court has scheduled a hearing in Harrisburg on May 31.

Earlier this year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the first attempt to abolish was unconstitutional. The Legislature hurried through Senate Bill 808, which became Act 4 of this year and signed by the governor earlier this month.

“The same Legislature that created the elected office of Jury Commissioner to counter mischief in the selection process for prospective jurors, now wants to reverse nearly 145 years of juror selection reform in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Thompson said. “In just 32 days, legislation to allow for the elimination of the people's oversight of the selection of prospective jurors was introduced, passed and signed into law.”

Thompson added, “I wonder if the political class will move this fast to reform their generous taxpayer funded pensions?

Thompson said the Jury Commissioners Association will challenge the Legislature, backed by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, through the appellate court system. 

“The final battle will be fought and decided in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. We know this and so do they,” Thompson said.