Before last year, jury pools were made up from a list of registered voters. A law signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2011 and implemented in 2012 expanded the pool to include those with driver’s licenses.
“Prior to the statewide jury management implementation, Floyd County had 20,000 names in our jury pool for the previous two-year period,” Penson said. “During that era we revised our jury pool every two years. Currently, under the Statewide Jury Management Pool, we have 80,791 names on our list.”
The changes have caused some problems. While convicted felons don’t have the right to vote, they can have a driver’s license. That has led to some convicted felons being called for jury duty. Being a convicted felon is a legal reason to be excused from a jury.
“All jurors are questioned in the jury assembly room whether they have ever been convicted of a felony,” Penson said. “If someone shows up, they fill out the affidavit at that time and are excused. Some felons still show up in the courtroom, and it is learned through voir dire, and they are excused by the judge.”
Penson said the problem is reported statewide, but there are ways to head off some of them.
“Prison sheets are generated in my office and those people are flagged on our jury list,” she noted.
The new system is designed to eliminate any opportunity for discrimination, since every citizen of the county who votes or has a driver’s license will be eligible for jury duty, Penson said last year when the system was put in place.
Last year some people who were previously permanently excused appeared on the jury pool list again. And there are some known duplicates on the list.
But a new list is being created, Penson said.
“Floyd County will be forwarding a county exception list to the Council of Superior Court Clerks for the composition of our local 2013 Master Jury List as soon as that deadline is established,” she said.