The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 15, 2013

Supreme Court sustains jury commissioners: Judges void law allowing counties to abolish positions

— Jury commissioners across the commonwealth received a reprieve from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on Thursday.

The high court declared – by a 6-0 vote – that a law giving counties permission to abolish jury commissioner positions violated the state constitution’s single-subject provision because it was tied to an unrelated measure dealing with private property and farm surplus online auctions.

Cambria County Solicitor Thomas Leiden said the court did not make “any indication on the constitutionality” of actually eliminating the positions.

Rather, judges determined Act 108, as it was written in 2011, went against the single-subject provision, which bars unrelated subjects from being included in the same legislation.

“When it passed, there was some question about the single-subject intent,” said state Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Patton, who voted against the bill.

Legislators could decide to take up the issue again, meaning the positions are not completely safe from elimination.

“I would hope they would reconsider, but I would not be surprised if they just passed a new bill,” said Indiana County resident Mary Jane Dellafiora, a Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners legislative representative.

Several counties already had decided to eliminate the positions. Cambria County planned to abolish the offices, currently held by Democrat Helen Whiteford and Republican Vickie Long.

“We just have to revisit it,” said Cambria County Commissioner Thomas Chernisky, a former jury commissioner. “They were budgeted for this year. We’re working on next year’s budget, so nothing is decided for next year.”

Chernisky supports retaining the positions because “the jury selection process is a very serious process.”

The seats originally were scheduled to be on the 2013 ballot. But since they subsequently were scheduled to be eliminated, nobody planned to run.

Now, with the primary set for May 21, the county must scramble to figure out how to handle the situation. Chernisky feels the state needs to quickly explain what should be done, since the deadline to file nomination  petitions already has passed.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads