Arizona Chief Justice approves plan to divide Gila County jury pool

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By an Administrative Order, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel approved a proposal authored by Gila County Superior Court Judges Timothy Wright and Bryan Chambers that would effectively divide Gila County’s jury pool so that Northern Gila County residents no longer have to travel to Globe for jury duty and residents of Southern Gila County no longer have to travel to Payson for jury duty.

Judges Wright and Chambers presented the proposal to the Arizona Judicial Council in Phoenix in December. The Council, of which Judge Wright is also a member, voted to recommend approval of the plan by the Chief Justice. On January 12, the Chief Justice issued Administrative Order 2023-05 approving the plan.

According to the Administrative Order, the plan will take effect Feb. 1, 2023, for all civil cases. It will take effect Feb. 1, 2023 for jury trials for crimes alleged to be committed after Feb. 1, 2023. This means the plan will not be fully implemented until existing criminal cases are resolved.

“Jury service has been an integral part of our justice system going back hundreds of years to England and Magna Charta. This change will not only make it easier for citizens in the northern part of Gila County to participate in jury trials, but it should make jury service more available generally,” said Judge Chambers.

“This is a major step toward allowing more of our citizens to serve as jurors, safely, conveniently and closer to their homes,” said Judge Wright.

According to the Administrative Order, the plan is approved for five years and the presiding judge is directed to report to the Arizona Judicial Council on the plan’s effectiveness in March 2025.

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