2012-02-23 / Front Page

Fight To Keep Jury Commissioner’s Seat

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

The legal battle being waged in Commonwealth Court to reverse the empowerment of county commissioners to abolish the elected office of jury commissioner will continue in Pittsburgh during the week of April 16. Full legal arguments will be heard at that time. A date for the start of the proceedings in April has not yet been determined.

In January, the PA State Association of Jury Commissioners petitioned Commonwealth Court for temporary and permanent injunctive relief and declaratory judgment in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s signing of HB 1644. The bill gave county commissioners the ability to abolish the elected office of jury commissioner with a simple majority vote.

The jury commissioner’s petition named the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly and Gov. Tom Corbett as defendants.

The decision to continue the proceedings in Pittsburgh resulted from a meeting between Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini and attorneys for both sides on February 16, just prior to the start of a scheduled hearing.

The Pittsburgh proceedings will be heard before a panel of three Commonwealth Court judges, or possibly the entire contingent of seven judges.

“We hold this to be a very positive decision,” says Larry Thompson, Republican jury commissioner in Butler County and president of the PA State Association of Jury Commissioners. “From the beginning, the defending parties have urged the court to dismiss our petition on its face, claiming it had no merit or legal standing. This did not happen at the hearing on February 16,” Thompson concludes.

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