The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 4, 2012

Judge sets example for jury duty

EBENSBURG — Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming didn’t use her black robe to be excused from jury duty.

On Thursday, she was among the 120 people reporting for duty at the county courthouse. She even was on a 36-member panel for jury selection in a criminal case.

But either the defense attorney or the prosecutor struck her name from the panel as they selected the 12 jurors and two alternates for the case.

“I’m not supprised I didn’t get selected,” Fleming said as she recalled that she divulged that she knew the attorneys and the detectives in the case.

But the judge said that she thought it was important for her not to try to get out of the duty to answer the summons.

“I could have been excused, but my job is no more important than anybody’s else’s,” she said. “I don’t let anybody out of jury duty, and you got to do what you ask others to do.”

Getting the chance to watch the proceedings from a potential juror’s standpoint was a learning experience, even to watching the introductory video shown to them, Fleming said.  

The video features Fleming and the county’s four other judges explaining the legal process for the day.

“The lady next to me didn’t recognize me,” she recalled.

Fleming described the experience as a positive one.

At least on Thursday, the process “seemed well-oiled. Three (36-member) panels had been selected by 10:30. Everything seemed to go very smoothly.”

Some prospective jurors talked about their hardships – from jobs and family – in having to report for duty.  

Fleming said that she had to shuffle her court caseload to answer the jury summons.

Fleming who wore a red ribbon identifying herself as a juror the same as all the others, said that she didn’t accept the $9 pay for the day.

But she chuckled that she did keep the voucher – to be used to buy lunch at the snack bar – as a souvenir.

William Valko, county court administrator, said Fleming’s decision to report for duty may have been a first for a county judge here.

But, he admitted that he was unable to say whether in past years a judge received a summons and was excused in advance.

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