Does larger jury pool let unwanted jurors sneak through cracks? - CBS46 News

Does newer, larger jury pool let unwanted jurors sneak through the cracks?

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One year after a new state policy went into effect allowing jury pools to include driver's license records, some attorneys are questioning whether the new system is accidentally letting convicted felons and non-U.S. citizens on to juries.

Prior to July 1, 2012, jurors were summoned by property and voting records. State Representative Wendell Willard said this produced what was, given the growing population of Georgia, an unacceptably small pool of jurors.

"The feel was we had a problem that was not being well addressed, could not be addressed by the local jury pools and the clerks of the juries. There was not a way to be sure they were getting a broad enough base of people in the community," said Willard.

He co-sponsored House Bill 415, which passed with an overwhelming majority and allowed a state-wide jury database to draw from property and driver's license records.

"We can't go back to where we were before," said Willard. "What we had was not a workable solution, because we were not getting a broad enough base of jurors for a pool."

"Some of the reasons to modernize the system were logical, and we were not opposed to the concept," said Chuck Spahos, Executive Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia. "But the practical matter of this particular program and its ability to screen convicted felons and non-citizens is a problem."

Spahos said he has witnessed cases in the last year where convicted felons and non-U.S. citizens have been allowed onto juries, and the court proceedings have had to be re-done with a new jury.

Willard said, if that is indeed true, it is a natural part of trying to get a new system and database fully functional on a state-wide level.

"I don't think it surprises me, because you do have, as you say, something new, there would be some kinks in it. You have to go through and make adjustments."

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