There has been a significant change to the Procedural Rules of Court with regard to jurors. You may have recently read some articles in statewide publications with regard to alternate jurors. Routinely at the end of a trial, alternate jurors were set free to go once deliberations began. The Rule, by Order of the State Supreme Court, has now been altered so that alternates shall be kept ready during deliberations in case a juror has to be replaced due to various legitimate reasons. The alternates will not be part of the deliberations; however, they will be sitting ready to step in if they are needed.
In my practice, I have had the opportunity to talk to some of the jurors that have sat on some the trials in which I have served as counsel and the overwhelming number of jurors felt that their experience on the jury was worthwhile and provided a fascinating glimpse into our legal system.
All too often, at family get-togethers and during social interactions, I have been asked by my friends and family how they can get out of jury service. I tell them that they should not be trying to get out or jury services unless they have a legitimate reason and that jury service can, in fact, be very exciting and it is our right and obligation as citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America.
That being said, if an individual juror has a legitimate reason, such as illness, family situation, or disability, jury service is almost always excused once that individual follows the proper procedures and requests leave from the Court.
That being said, if you are lucky enough to be picked a jury, I think you will find that our legal process is fair and that the attorneys in both side work very hard in providing the jurors with a true and honest depiction of their clients’ cases.