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Monday, May 21, 2012 - 12:01pm

Changes Mean More Will Get Jury Duty

A new system for picking jurors means more Georgians could be called for jury duty – but everyone should be called less often.

The changes end the process of each county “balancing” jury pools to reflect the county’s percentage of black and white residents as well as males and females. That process excluded some people to get the proportions right. Lists were updated every two years.

Now, state officials will electronically merge voter registrations with driver’s license and state ID card data to update the list of eligible jurors every year.

That will capture almost every eligible Georgian, said Judge Ben Studdard, Henry County's chief state court judge.

“That process of balancing the box and excluding folks really did mean that some people were almost guaranteed to be included year after year while other folks were going to be excluded by definition," Studdard said. "This should mean the end of those problems.”

Studdard serves on a Supreme Court committee that has been studying the jury-pool issue.

“We’re now providing a better list, one that is representative of every group that’s cognizable in each county and we’re doing it with a process that should be not only easier but also cheaper to produce than those old less-accurate lists,” he said.

Studdard said with a more complete juror list updated annually, it’s possible to be called for jury duty every year. But the broader pool of jurors means you’ll probably be summoned less often.

The changes stem from a law the governor signed last year.