Monday, November 16, 2020

Right of Attorneys To Strike Jurors in Lackawanna County Civil Trials Potentially Eliminated By Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order

 

Time out, now.
That's not how we play.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has granted an Application from the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas to suspend or modify Pa.R.C.P. 221 and issued an Order on November 4, 2020 allowing the trial court judges to limit, or even eliminate, any peremptory challenges by parties in civil litigation lawsuits in Lackawanna County.

This Application was apparently submitted due to difficulties in getting jurors to appear in court in response to juror summonses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the Order, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court noted that any interested parties could have filed an objection to the same by November 12, 2020, a mere eight (8) days after the Order was entered.  I note that I only became aware of the Order yesterday and share it here now.

Anyone wishing to review this Order may click this LINK.

Commentary:

It appears that litigants proceeding to Trial in Lackawanna County potentially have no say in the makeup of their juries other than to request that some jurors be stricken for cause.  It also appears that there is no remedy available given that any appeals on this particular issue could ultimately be decided by the very Pennsylvania Supreme Court that issued the ill-advised Order allowing this in the first place.

Members of both the Plaintiff's bar and the Defense bar should work together to right this wrong.  Every citizen in Pennsylvania has a state and national Constitutional right to a jury trial and within that right is the right to take an active part in the selection of a fair and impartial jury.


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