By Austin Nolen, Images by Shealyn Kilroy
Last week, The Declaration reported that Philadelphia court officials have been wrongfully disqualifying potential jurors for years. Here’s how to find out if you have been wrongfully disqualified and, if so, how to get re-qualified.
As we reported, court officials required prospective jurors to answer a question about any criminal convictions and then disqualified everyone who reported a conviction, even though not all convictions are disqualifying.
In 2016, the paper summons form was updated with a legally accurate question, but the online summons form still improperly disqualifies anyone with a conviction.
Pennsylvania sets out specific qualifications for jurors, which are available here. We have summarized those provisions in graphic form to enable you to determine if you are qualified.
If you previously answered yes to a Philadelphia jury summons question about any criminal convictions, but are qualified to serve on a jury under state law, the first step to re-qualify is to contact the Jury Selection Commission. Their contact information is available here.
Reporter Austin Nolen began writing this story when he was wrongfully disqualified by the same summons question. He was able to re-qualify for jury service by calling the Commission and explaining the issue.
If contacting the Commission does not work, there may be other options you can pursue. The Declaration‘s reporters are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice or representation. But there are other local organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Community Legal Services and the Philadelphia Bar Association, which might be able to help.