Pa. high court upholds jury commissioner decision

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HARRISBURG – Races for the county offices of jury commissioner won’t appear on the primary ballot under a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling Thursday that lets parties decide who will be candidates in the fall election.


The one-sentence order upheld a Commonwealth Court judge’s rejection two weeks ago of a request by the jury commissioners’ organization to establish an expedited schedule for primary races. The primary is May 21.


The legal issue arose in March, when the Supreme Court threw out a 2011 law that had let counties eliminate the office, saying it violated a state constitutional provision restricting laws to a single subject. Forty-two counties had already eliminated their jury commissioners under that law.


Two jury commissioners of different parties serve in each county, developing procedures to create jury lists, ensuring jurors are picked fairly and managing the jury pool.


This week the state Senate passed a replacement bill and sent it to the House of Representatives. House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said the proposal is expected to be taken up by the full House in the coming months.


Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said if that bill passes counties would likely have to act again to do away with the offices.


A message seeking comment was not immediately returned by the lawyer who represents the Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners and several commissioners who had sued and then appealed to the Supreme Court.


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