People who once were ineligible for jury duty might soon find a summons in the mail now that a major overhaul of Georgia’s jury system is in effect.
Beginning July 1, “every resident who is at least 18 years old and is a citizen of the county, who votes or has a driver’s license, or a state-issued identification card, will be eligible for jury duty under the new law,” Bulloch County Superior Court Clerk Teresa P. Tucker said.
“Previously, Georgia was the only state remaining that required ‘forced balancing’ of jury pools,” she said. “This means jury pools were created by local jury commissions in the state’s 159 counties, for the purpose of ensuring the pools were not skewed according to gender or race.”
Before, because demographics based on the latest decennial census never matched demographics in the jury pool, clerks were forced to remove some residents because of age, race or sex, she said.
“The new system is designed to eliminate any opportunity for discrimination on any grounds and is a result of changes in state law and Georgia Supreme Court rules adopted after concerns that the current system in unconstitutional,” she said.
The new system will have jury lists compiled using the entire state driver’s license file, as well as the entire state voter registry, she said. The Council of Superior Court Clerks will certify the lists and send them to all 159 county jury commissions, and local clerks will draw names from the certified pool in a random manner.
By law, a juror may be permanently excused for “any statutorily required reason that includes death, nonresidency and permanent medical infirmities attested to by a medical doctor or psychologist,” Tucker said.
Convicted felons who have not had civil rights restored should automatically be disqualified for any jury service, she said.
Tucker said some transitional problems might occur, such as a deceased person’s name appearing in the pool because the name on the death certificate doesn’t match the voter’s or driver’s license name.
Anyone with questions should call (912) 764-9009 or send email to Teresatucker@gsccca.org.