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ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS FROM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGES
U.S. DISTRICT COURT,
DISTRICT OF COLORADO,
Denver, Colo., August 2, 1966. Hon. SAM J. ERVIN, Jr. Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.O.
DEAR SENATOR ERVIN: The delay in answering your letter of July 1, 1966 regarding Title I of S. 3296 was caused by the fact that I have been involved in trials during the past several weeks, and until last weekend was not able to devote the necessary time to studying the proposal.
At the outset I should state that the present system of selecting jurors in our District seems to be a satisfactory one to all segments of our population. However, I realize that some changes are indicated because of circumstances in other areas of the country, and I am sure that we can satisfactorily adjust our practice in line with the over-all requirements in the Federal system.
I agree wholeheartedly with the comments in your opening statement concerning the requirement that a prospective juror fill out a form stating his
race, religion ..." should be entirely eliminated from the Act. Several years ago the questionnaire which we used did contain space for the prospective juror to state his or her race and religion, but that was eliminated because of the objections made, and for the most part they were made by members of the so-called “minority” groups.
We also think it objectionable that no provision is made in section 1865 for the payment of fees or mileage to the jurors summoned to appear before the Commission to fill out a juror qualification form. Because it will take some time from a prospective juror's job and also some travel expense for him to appear before the Commission for this purpose, it seems only fair that he should receive some compensation therefor.
Section 1866 of Title 28 apparently will be completely eliminated in the proposed new Bill. This seems inadvisable to me. If open venires are not authorized, it will mean that we will have to summon a larger panel in order that there will be sufficient jurors available at any particular time. Although the open venire is not used often, it seems to me that it does provide a safeguard for getting a jury within a reasonable time.
The provisions of section 1869 relating to the record which must be kept by the Jury Commission on juror's qualification form are unclear. If I read this correctly, it would require an entry on the juror's qualification form every time that he is called to the jury box and excused as a result of a pre-emptory challenge; this would mean that a copy of that particular juror's form would have to be before the courtroom deputy clerk each time he is summoned to a courtroom for possible jury duty. Under our present system we use a jury pool which serves three courts at the same time; burdensome record keeping regarding exclusion would slow down the judicial process and also, because of human error, it might invite additional attacks on jury verdicts.
The provisions of proposed section 1867 appear to me to be unnecessary, cumbersome and probably another invitation to slow down the judicial process. I would anticipate that many lawyers would move to dismiss the indictment, under this section, merely for the purpose of delay or for the purpose of creating another roadblock in the orderly administration of justice. At the present time I can think of no real good purpose that this challenging procedure would serve. In criminal cases, if after a verdict it is found that there was a failure to comply with the statute, that could be handled by a post conviction proceedings. In line with your suggestion, I am enclosing two copies of the selection method in operation in our District and the juror qualification form used by our Court. With best regards, I am, Sincerely yours,
ALFRED A. ABRAJ.
SELECTION OF JURY METHOD IN THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
1. AREA AND APPORTION MENT Area of Jury Division
The names of prospective jurors are secured from an area as directed by order of the court in the jury division within a radius of approximately 50 miles from the place of holding court so as not to incur unnecessary expense or unduly burden the citizens of the district with jury service. Apportionment
The number of jurors whose names are to be placed in the jury wheel or box is determined by the court, and this number is based on the population according to the last census of the various counties in the Jury Division so that each county has a proportionate representation on the jury and provides a true cross-section of the community.
2. SOURCE OF NAMES The names and addresses of prospective jurors are principally obtained from the city directory and telephone books. Names are selected by lot; for instance, the last name on each page of the first column alternating so that every other name is that of a woman. This system provides an impartial selection for developing a true cross section of the community and compiles a list of jurors of various racial, ethnical, religious, economic and social groups.
8. QUESTIONNAIRES A questionnaire is mailed to each prospective juror on the form provided by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to obtain the necessary information as to the qualifications and exemptions.
4. JURY TICKETS
From the questionnaire of those jurors who are qualified, a jury ticket is typed prepared with the name, address, occupation, county, and the phone numbers. None is excluded on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or economic status.
5. JURY BOX REFILLED
The jury box is refilled from time to time by order of the court from the jury tickets prepared which exceed in number the required number of jurors in the proportion as ordered by the court; the clerk and in the presence of the United States Marshal and the Jury Commissioner, place one name, by lot, alternately in the jury box until the required number ordered by the court has been placed therein.
6. DRAWING JURORS On order of the court the clerk, in open court, in the presence of the chief judge and marshal, draws by lot the required number of jurors from the jury box. The marshal retains the key to the jury box and is not opened except on order of the court.
The clerk then issues the summons for each of the jurors drawn to report on the date ordered by the court, and delivers the same to the marshal for service by registered mail together with a letter to each juror that should he find it absolutely necessary to be excused he should write to the chief judge.
The Chief Judge for good cause shown may excuse the juror requesting same.
9. LENGTH OF SERVICE
The Chief Judge determines the length of service of the jury panel.
U.S. DISTRICT COURT,
Tulsa, Okla., July 18, 1966.
Washington, D.C. DEAR SENATOR ERVIN: Thank you for your letter of July 1, 1966, wherein you offer me the opportunity of commenting on the jury system in Federal Courts today, and comments as to the proposed s. 3296. I enjoyed your remarks made on June 6, 1966, and your suggestions show thoughtful reflection over the possible changes.
Briefly, the following is a description of the process we use for the selection of jurors in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
In preparing the jury box for this district (we use only one box), we first ascertain the population of each county, and solicit names on a pro rata basis from the churches, civic organizations, postmasters, lodges, union organizations, women's clubs, bar association, etc. We ask each to furnish the names of a given number of persons whom they think qualified to serve as jurors, without making any distinction as to race, creed or color. We usually solicit about 5,000 names each three or four years when the box is refilled.
After the lists have been furnished by the various organizations, a statement of qualifications is mailed to each person with a questionnaire to be returned within a given time. When the questionnaires have been returned the Jury Commission, consisting of the Clerk and the Jury Commissioner (who are of opposite political parties), check them for valid excuses and determine the names to be placed in the jury box. A master list is then made and the names, which have been placed on 2 x 3 cards showing name, address and occupation, are placed in the box alternately by the Clerk and the Commissioner.
When the box has been completed and the Court orders a jury, the Clerk draws the names from the box. The names are listed and individual summons prepared and delivered to the United States Marshal, who serves them by certified mail.
We enclose a copy of the statement of qualifications and the questionnaire.
I personally think that the jury system that we have today is more than adequate, is fair, and insures able citizens serving on the jury to arrive at true decisions in cases they hear. I think the proposed law has many dangers and complications of administration that create unfair possibilities. The citizens in my district are very proud of our Federal juries, and I can state to you, as a Judge of this Court, I too am proud of the caliber of the citizens. I would personally prefer leaving the system as it is than to gamble with unknown changes and their resulting effects. Sincerely,
ALLEN E. BARROW,
U.S. District Judge.
U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA, CLERK'S OFFICE
Please answer fully the questions on the attached questionnaire so the Jury Commissioner may determine whether you are qualified to serve as a juror in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. Sign your name and return it within five days in the enclosed envelope which requires no postage. The qualifications and exemptions are as follows:
Any citizen who has attained the age of 21 years and resides within the judicial district is competent to serve as a grand or petit juror unless :
(1) He or she has been convicted in a state or federal court of record of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and his or her civil rights have not been restored by pardon or amnesty.