Attorney Christina Gill Roseman recently was a presenter at the Women’s Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania’s program entitled Jury Selection Process in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The seminar covered jury selection, also known as voir dire, in both federal and state court. Ms. Roseman addressed the recent Court decision of Trigg v. Children’s Hospital, how the decision impacted the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and proposed changes to the Allegheny County jury selection process.
The Trigg decision was highly critical of the jury selection process in Allegheny County because judges are not present for and do not view potential jurors’ responses to initial questioning by a court clerk and attorneys. Changes to jury selection in Allegheny County were already being considered prior to the release of the Trigg decision. Starting in January 2018, the 13-member Ad Hoc Committee on Jury Selection, of which Ms. Roseman was a member, reviewed jury selection across the Commonwealth and the nation. Coincidentally, the Committee’s meeting to finalize the report with its recommendations was on the date of the release of the Trigg opinion. The recommendations in the Committee’s report were consistent with the Trigg opinion. The Committee report was provided to the Civil Division Administrative Judge.
The report only made recommendations, but did not draft proposed rule language. Ms Roseman, as Vice Chairperson of the Allegheny County Bar Association Court Rules Committee, convened a special meeting of the Court Rules Committee, to discuss rule changes in light of the Ad Hoc Committee report and the Trigg decision. Proposed rule changes for jury selection were drafted and approved by the Court Rules Committee and forwarded to the Administrative Judge for consideration. It is anticipated that any changes that may be approved by the Board of Judges to the rules for jury selection in Allegheny County will be in place by the September jury trial term.