New legislation is giving Georgia’s jury system a major overhaul, Penson said, and one of the biggest changes will be the expansion of the jury pool. Old exemptions will no longer be included on the list.
“Because we will be using new jury lists that do not reflect all historical information about jurors and their service record, persons who have been permanently excused from jury service for medical and other legal reasons may be inadvertently summoned for jury duty,” she said in a press release.
According to Penson, Georgia was the only state remaining that required ‘forced balancing’ of jury pools as a means for ensuring that the pools were not skewed by gender or race.
The new system is designed to eliminate any opportunity for discrimination on any grounds since, after July 1, every citizen of the county who votes or has a driver’s license will be eligible for jury duty, she said.
The method used for selecting grand jurors will also change.
“Essentially, we will only have one jury pool consisting of persons who may be summoned for service as jurors for jury trials and grand jury,” Penson said.
Penson, who has served as clerk of Superior Court since 2009, is also required by law to serve as the clerk of the county’s jury commission.
After July 1, the role of the jury commission will ultimately be to approve jurors’ requests for permanent excusal from jury service.
Staff Writer Kim Sloan contributed to this report.