Commission Submits Second Round of Comments to Court in Support of Proposal to Expand and Permit the Collection of Juror Demographic Data Categories

On September 12, 2023, the Commission submitted a second round of comments in support of the PA Supreme Court’s revised proposal to amend PA Rule of Criminal Procedure 632 by (1) explicitly permitting state judicial districts to collect and retain aggregated, personally non-identifiable juror demographic data, and by (2) expanding the statewide Juror Information Questionnaire’s list of racial and ethnic categories from which potential jurors may select.

The revised proposal is identical to the Court’s first proposal, but adds an optional “Religious Affiliation” query. In its comments, the Commission signals its support for the proposed amendments while also advocating for the inclusion of a simplified gender identifier on the Questionnaire – one that places gender diverse individuals on an equal footing with cisgendered individuals by requiring everyone to manually complete the query.

The Court’s proposed changes will ensure that jurors from all backgrounds feel included in our jury selection and court processes. They will also permit courts to collect demographic data, thus ensuring that Pennsylvania juries are comprised of representative cross-sections of the communities from which they are drawn. The Commission is hopeful the proposed amendments to Rule 632 will take effect in the near future.