Implications of Variations in County Jury Selection Processes for Potential Biases: Evidence From Pennsylvania Counties

Lillian Dote, Temple University
Ralph B. Taylor, Temple University

Long before a juror ever reaches the courthouse, he/she has been subject to a lengthy qualification process that is intended to amass a sufficient number of citizens who can serve as potential jurors. This qualification process varies from county to county, and, although administrative in nature, may unintentionally contribute to minority under-representation in the jury pool. As a result, biased jury selection may be exacerbated by an administrative culling process that begins much earlier than voir dire. This research is a description and discussion of the juror qualification process in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. County court administrators were surveyed to determine local jury selection procedures and data sources. Models and findings suggest that administrative variations among counties and common decisionmaking stages have may implications for biased jury selection. Potentially most relevant are variations in excusal rates, expected time to serve.

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Updated 05/20/2006