A group of top judges and lawyers and citizens recommended yesterday significant changes in Maryland's jury system to improve participation and make the experience less intimidating for jurors.
About 20 members of the Council on Jury Use and Management met for about five hours in Annapolis and voted to recommend that:
Employers should pay jurors for up to three days of a trial.
Jurors should be able to ask questions during trials.
The court system should be encouraged help jurors with child-care problems and give special consideration to those with health or transportation problems.
Counseling for jurors should be available after stressful trials.
To tap a broader spectrum of jurors, the council recommended using databases other than the usual voter registration and motor vehicle rolls, such as income tax mailing lists, unemployment lists, welfare lists and public utility customer lists. Members approved eliminating from the juror qualification form any questions concerning race or nationality.
Some issues were so contentious they were not voted on. The council made no recommendation on peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to exclude potential jurors without explanation, and on privacy issues, such as keeping names of grand jurors secret.
Pub Date: 10/05/99