disqualification making them eligible for service as condemnation jurors.
Apparently it has been the practice to keep two lists, one general and one special, for condemnation, this resulting in the creation of the so-called "backlog".
There are three separate provisions in the Code with reference to the impaneling of condemnation juries -- which adds to the confusion -- one relates to the present case (Schoolhouse site taking by the District), another relates to takings by the United States (Title 16, § 629, D.C. Code 1940), and the third to taking by the District, for alleys and minor streets -- the latter provision requires prospective jurors to be "judicious", "disinterested" and not in the service of the United States or of the District of Columbia (Title 7, Sec. 315, D.C. Code 1940) -- not in the service of the United States or the District of Columbia, being also a precedent requirement for service on juries in land takings by the United States.
There is also a provision of law which provides that juries shall be chosen as near as may be from the District generally and this again emphasizes the discretion placed in the Commissioners. The problem of securing grand and petit jurors is a real one as about six hundred general prospective jurors have to be actually called for personal appearance at Court every month in order to secure two hundred or thereabouts for general jury service and it is from these that the condemnation list has to be replenished from time to time. Presumably the difficulty has been in not changing or preparing more often a new special list, but keeping on the list jurors who have served on such panels from time to time and are reeligible for service after a year, a perfectly legal procedure -- however such lists should be remade and rechecked.
In addition the general jury lists should be prepared with great care, as it has been my experience that jurors who have served are constantly being recalled for further service, after the statutory period with reference to their reeligibility has run.
Under the circumstances as developed in this proceeding there seems to me no valid reason why members of a substantial group, apparently qualified in every respect should not as appears find themselves on condemnation juries. The lists of prospective condemnation jurors should be completely revised and kept constantly fluid to insure adequate representation of all duly qualified classes of citizen property owners and full compliance with the law. That something is highly amiss there is no doubt. The error however would seem to be one of method, rather than deliberate exclusion.
Parenthetically, and in conclusion, it might be said the Jury Commission has long been under staffed, and able and public spirited citizens asked to perform a most important civic task without either adequate compensation or support.
Certainly the compensation is not attractive ($10 a day when actually engaged, not to exceed $250 each in any one year), and a staff which consists of two permanent clerks -- and a temporary one. It is not peculiarly however a problem alone of the District of Columbia but the Federal Judicial system generally.But this is no reason why the Court under whose authority they serve should not guide and direct the Commission to the end that proper representation is had of all eligible citizens, not only on general juries as that term is understood but on the special condemnation panels as well, indeed it is the duty of the Court to do so.
The method of selection in all jurisdictions varies -- in some as here names are culled from the city directory and like sources, in others recourse is had to "key" men, and organization rosters (See: Select Report of Committee on Selection of Jurors infra) -- methods as haphazard as they are unsatisfactory, and which can lead to apparent discrimination and exclusion.
That this problem is receiving the attention it deserves is evidenced by the voluminous report, well worth reading, submitted to the Judicial Conference of the Committee on Selection of Jurors, published in September 1942, of which Mr. Justice Proctor of this Court is a member, and which recommends, among other things, for the more populous areas such as the District of Columbia, a full time well paid Commissioner, because of the important character of his responsibilities, and most certainly, as a corollary, a sufficient staff, having in mind the responsibilities and duties imposed upon them.
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