Part 3 of 4
The Indiana Supreme Court has promulgated new rules and amendments to govern jury assembly, selection and management in all state courts. Judge Ernest Yelton chaired the Judicial Administrative Committee to help bring about those changes.
Clay County selected their jury pool in December, 2002, for the 2003 year. Circuit Court Judge Ernest Yelton and Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers work together in the jury selection process so only one draw is necessary. Six hundred names were drawn from the voter registration files and the Bureau of Motor Vehicle records. This, basically, is for a petit jury. A grand jury would be drawn from the same pool but only as needed and when ordered by a judge.
Each quarter, 150 names are selected to serve, if needed, for the remainder of the calendar year. Once a juror actually serves in a trial he or she does not have to serve again even during the remainder of the term.
Those drawn in January will serve for the entire year. Those chosen in April serve nine months. July picks are available for six months and those drawn in October would serve three months. If there is still a large number of jurors available from the three previous draws, no selection will be made in October.
To fill a 12-person jury, usually 35 people will be called up. All 35 will have met their civic responsibility whether or not they actually sit on the jury.
If called to go through the process, people are entitled to be compensated $15 a day. Those who actually serve are paid $40 per day and get 28 cents a mile to and from the courthouse.
Some employers will pay their employees the difference in what they make per day at work and what they receive for jury duty. Many employers do not.
Judge Yelton feels that while people should not make money serving on a jury, neither should they lose money. He said the next project for the Judicial Administrative Committee will be to ask the Supreme Court for an increase in compensations for jurors.
"Our goals," Yelton said, "were to make the jury experience more rewarding to individual citizens, arm jurors with as much information and tools as necessary to reach a just verdict and to broaden the base of participation of Indiana citizens.
"I'm excited about this," he continued. "When people come up for jury duty they are apprehensive. When they leave they have a great deal of pride and feel good about it. They were part of the judicial process. They're proud. It's a win-win situation."
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To qualify to serve on a jury a person must state under oath or affirmation that he or she is:
-A citizen of the United States
-At least 18 years of age
-A resident of the summoning count
-Able to read speak and understand the English language
-Not suffering from a physical or mental disability that prevents him or her from rendering satisfactory jury service
-Not under a guardianship appointment because of mental incapacity
-Not a person who has had rights to vote revoked by reason of a felony conviction and whose rights to vote have not been restored
-Not a law enforcement officer, if the trial is for a criminal case.