for jury service. The very purpose of establishing a Jury Commission is to create an impartial body standing, so to speak, between the court and the public, to obtain on an individual basis suitable persons to serve on juries. The function of the Commission is to use a selective process for that purpose.
Only a limited number of citizens can be used for jury service. The duty of the Commission is to invoke its sound judgment and discretion in determining what persons should be called for jury service. The task is to select persons fitted by character and intelligence who would represent a cross-section of the population.
A committee of judges appointed by the Judicial Conference of the United States several years ago recommended that Jury Commissions use their discretion in selecting names of prospective jurors. The Committee approved the use of questionnaires and personal interviews in this connection.
It is the understanding of this Court that the Jury Commission for the District of Columbia uses an arbitrary mathematical formula, which is changed periodically, to take names out of the city directory and the telephone directory, at random. It then sends questionnaires to all persons so picked and determines on the basis of the answers whether the name of the prospective juror should or should not be placed on the jury list. In case of doubt the Commission requests the person to appear for a personal interview. This process is continuous and the list is constantly in a state of flux. All neighborhoods, all races, all economic levels, are represented in the list so developed.
Counsel for the defendant points to Question 20 in the questionnaire sent to prospective jurors by the Jury Commission. It reads as follows:
'Have you ever been indicted for or convicted of any offense in any court? If so, state when and where and the nature of the offense.'
It is argued that on the basis of an answer to this question a person who has been convicted of a serious crime, but who has been pardoned, might be automatically eliminated. Several considerations must be borne in mind in this connection. First, as has been stated, it is contemplated that Jury Commissions should use their discretion in selecting persons who are intelligent, honorable and conscientious. They need not and cannot use every eligible person. The only limitation on Jury Commissions is one formulated in judicial decisions, namely, that a Commission may not exclude an entire class on a group basis. For example, Jury Commissions have been held to have improperly excluded women
as a class or per diem laborers
as a class. The same consideration would apply to any exclusion based on race, religion or national origin. It cannot be said, however, that persons who have been convicted of a crime and thereafter pardoned constitute a separate group or class in that sense, and, therefore, this principle does not apply to the present situation.
Irrespective of these considerations, as a matter of fact the questionnaire used by the Jury Commission affords an opportunity to the prospective juror to indicate that he has received a pardon if he has been convicted. Question 36 of the questionnaire states as follows:
'If there is anything that would affect your ability to serve, describe briefly on a separate sheet.'
If a person to whom the questionnaire is addressed, has been convicted of a crime but thereafter pardoned, he would obviously have a right to state so, in answer to Question 36. Moreover, in answer to Question 20, to which reference has been made, he would have a right to say, 'Yes, I have been convicted, but I have been pardoned'. Consequently, it does not appear from this questionnaire that a person has no opportunity to indicate that even though he has been convicted of a crime he has been pardoned. On the contrary, such a facility is presented in the present document.
There is another problem. Obviously the Court may not construe any statute so as to reach an unreasonable or absurd result. This principle of statutory construction is well established. The grand jury that indicted this defendant was drawn from a list of jurors that had been accumulated over a long period of time. Names are added and, because of removals and deaths, are taken off the list from month to month. It is the view of this Court that the statute on which reliance is placed is not retroactive, and did not require all existing lists of jurors to be discarded and new lists prepared. Otherwise there would have been a considerable interval after the enactment of the statute during which it would have been impossible to hold jury trials, because it would have taken a great deal of time to prepare new jury lists.
For each of these reasons the Court reaches the conclusion that the motions of the defendant are not well founded and the motions are denied.