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Harris County Expands Its Jury Pool

The district clerk rolled a new method to select jurors. The idea is to expand the pool the courts can choose from.

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The new electronic system selects randomly and referred to as the “jury wheel.”

 

The list of potential jurors who could serve on trials and Justice of the Peace courts had reached a low of about 111,000. Monday, around 2.5 million names went into a new electronic jury wheel.

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Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia signs order allowing use of new jury wheel.

Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel said the names used to be picked from a spinning wheel, like in bingo. “And as the numbers came out, they would point to you and say, ‘You’re juror number 1. You’re juror number 12.’ And that’s how they made sure it was absolutely random,” said Daniel.

He said the new wheel means more potential panelists will be sent to the courts.

“For all 76 courts here downtown, plus the Justice of the Peace courts, and the Family Courts-at-Law, and should Probate need a jury for whatever reason, those too,” Daniel said.

The old system being replaced was the brainchild of Retired Judge Shearn Smith.

He said his original process has now been streamlined. “In the sense that the Clerk’s office working with it, the system produces the jurors whenever we need them. There’s no time waiting,” said Smith.

Officials said more names in the jury pool guarantees impartiality.

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