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A jury-selection process meant to make service more convenient for jurors in Maricopa County, Ariz., by assigning them to one of four county courthouses closest to their homes is giving the court a major headache. Lawyers claim that the Maricopa County Superior Court’s four-year-old selection process is unfair to their clients and violates the state constitution. The process is programmed to assign at least 83% of the jurors called every day to the courthouse closest to where they live on the basis of their ZIP codes. William W. Drury Jr., a civil litigator at Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros in Phoenix, said that lawyers have filed many motions requesting that new cases be tried under the old system, in which jurors were selected countywide. Lawyers have also filed motions to set aside criminal and civil verdicts that were returned since the new system was implemented in 2002, he said. A lawyer’s discovery “The issue puts at risk the criminal and civil verdicts that have been rendered for the last four years in Maricopa County,” said Drury. He noted that a lawyer only recently figured out that the county was creating jury pools from ZIP codes closest to the courthouse rather than the whole county. The lawyer who first discovered this found out about it when he noticed that a jury pool he got did not appear to be a representative cross-section of the county, and asked the jury commissioner about it, Drury said. Presiding Judge Barbara R. Mundell of Maricopa County Superior Court referred the motions to Judge William J. O’Neil of Pinal County Superior Court in Florence, Ariz., after deciding that it would be a conflict of interest for her or a member of the Maricopa County bench to rule on the issue. Last week, O’Neil remanded all new Maricopa County cases back to their courts of origin with instructions that jurors are to be selected countywide. He has yet to decide what to do with post-trial and post-judgment motions, Drury said. Mundell said on the Maricopa Superior Court Web site that the court would “cease the use of the system, effective August 14, 2006, until this issue is finally decided.” The county implemented the new system in response to jurors’ concerns that they “were required to travel as far as 88 miles in order to appear at the regional court center in Mesa that opened in 1991,” the court noted in a statement.

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