Meadville Tribune

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September 6, 2013

Jury commissioner post to appear on Nov. ballot

VERNON TOWNSHIP — Crawford County commissioners will allow the jury commissioner post to appear on the general election ballot in November.

 At Thursday’s county commissioner meeting, Chairman Francis Weiderspahn announced the county will allow the position to appear on the ballot for a four-year term.

The elected jury commissioners — one from each of the two major political parties — develop and maintain jury lists and communicate with potential jurors. The jobs are part-time in Crawford County with a salary of $10,598 each for 2013.

In late December 2012, Crawford County commissioners voted to abolish the jury commissioner post as did a number of other counties across Pennsylvania.

When Crawford County commissioners eliminated the posts, the jury commissioners’ work was to be absorbed by the office of the court administrator.

However, state legislation allowing the elimination of the positions was ruled unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because the bill allowing that to happen was flawed. The Legislature then passed a new law, and an appeal to the state Supreme Court is pending. In the meantime, courts said instead of having a special election, the two political parties would nominate candidates for the November election.

Weiderspahn said Crawford County commissioners would not take another vote to eliminate the jury positions as they did back in December because of the legal challenges across the state and the issue still being unsettled.

Commissioner C. Sherman Allen said he was not in total favor of putting the positions back on the November ballot but said if the jury commissioners weren’t on the ballot it potentially could cost the county additional funds.

“If we do a resolution and then they say we have got to have them, we could have to have a special election and that would cost us a lot of money,” Allen said.

Names for jury commissioner submitted by the county’s Republican and Democratic parties to appear on the ballot in Crawford County are David Kennedy for the Republicans, a current incumbent, and Samantha Staab for the Democrats.

Betty Lou Williams, the current incumbent Democratic jury commissioner, didn’t win the nomination of her party following a recent meeting of county Democratic committee people. Staab is the treasurer of the Crawford County Democratic Committee.

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 5.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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