Court begins jury selection process
by Paisley Boston
Oct 08, 2013 | 2481 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Monday began the Bolivar County District 1 Criminal Court term.

The terms have been set for April and October and Rosedale has begun its jury selection process.

Bolivar County has two judicial districts, Cleveland and Rosedale, with over 24,000 voters and every year they county pick about 10,000 for jury.

"We do about 7,000 for Cleveland and about 3,000 in Rosedale and out of that we pull jurors for court. Rosedale has about two criminal court terms per year and only about 300 get picked per week. After the 300 are picked, they are weeded out some more when they come to court, then some jurors come to court to get automatic exceptions, "said Bolivar County Circuit Clerk Marilyn Kelly.

According to Kelly, the jury selection process usually takes a day.

"If our judge can wrap this jury selection process up within a day, then that's pretty good. Usually we have about 300 to 400 jurors to select from. The weeding out and the purging of the jurors has to continue until 12 jurors are selected," said Kelly.

The presiding judge for this term is the Honorable Charles Webster of Clarksdale, Circuit Judge of the 11th Circuit District.

To be legally qualified for jury service, an individual must embody the following qualifications: must be a United States citizen; be at least 18 years of age; reside primarily in the judicial district for one year; be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form; have no disqualifying mental or physical condition; not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; and never have been convicted of a felony.

There are three groups that are exempt from jury service which include members of the armed services on active duty; members of professional fire and police departments; and public officers of federal, state or local governments, who are actively engaged full-time in the performance of public duties.

Many courts offer excuses from service, on individual request, to designated groups of persons or occupational classes.

Such groups may include persons over age 70; persons who have, within the past two years, served on a federal jury; and persons who serve as volunteer fire fighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew.

The Jury Act also allows courts to excuse a juror from service at the time he or she is summoned on the grounds of "undue hardship or extreme inconvenience."

The juror should write a letter to the clerk of court requesting an excuse with an explanation of hardship.

Excuses for jurors are granted at the discretion of the court and cannot be reviewed or appealed to Congress or any other entity.

"By the time the court purges the non qualifying jurors they have the remaining jurors to actually serve," said Kelly. "This week

According to Kelly, the court has allocated about seven or eight defendants who were indicted in August.

"It hard to say how long a trial will actually last, it depends on the state. The trial is usually set for three days. The state has to do the first argument. Jonathan Johnson and Curtis Lesley are two defendants on one case and this will mark the first trial on the docket for this criminal term," she added.

The Bolivar County 2nd District Criminal Term convenes Nov. 4 and it is set to last six weeks.