Clerk of Circuit Court Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson is clerk of the Circuit Court for Arlington and Falls Church, and previously served on the Arlington County Board.

The verdict is in, and at least from the standpoint of Arlington officials, a two-year-long revamp of how local jurors are selected appears to be a success.

“We have received positive feedback,” said Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson. It was at the start of 2017 that the clerk’s office moved to a “one day or one trial” initiative – if a juror wasn’t selected for a trial on the first day of service, that would be it.

Ferguson acknowledges that his office was playing catch-up, as the initiative was in place in neighboring Fairfax County first.

“We want to be competitive with our neighboring jurisdictions – and out front when we can be,” Ferguson said.

The one-day-or-one-trial approach does have the drawback that more people are called for jury duty. In 2017 and 2018, the total amounted to about 16,400 per year, which Ferguson said compares to about 10,000 per year when jurors had been tapped for service of an entire week.

County Board member Libby Garvey, who has done her share of service as a juror, said the new(ish) procedure is preferable to the old.

“It makes the burden of being a juror so much less,” Garvey said. “It’s good all the way around.”

Those who are picked to serve on an Arlington jury generally see trials last just a couple of days at most.

“There’s usually only four or five” major criminal trials each year, Ferguson said, while most civil cases that require juries are settled before heading into the courtroom.

“But not always,” the clerk noted.

Those who are part of the community-wide jury pool are only obligated to serve once every three years, Ferguson said. Certain community members – those over 70 and attorneys, for instance – are exempt from service but can opt to do it if called.

The stipend is $30 per day. This being Arlington, there is no free parking, although some paid spaces are reserved for jurors in the large surface parking lot adjacent to Courthouse Plaza.

(1) comment

CJE

Reality Check: If John or Jane Arlington is charged with anything it's going to cost them about $300 / hour to retain legal counsel that's actually willing to provide them with an adequate legal defense in Arlington's dysfunctional Circuit Court. Wonder why there's not many trials in Arlington Circuit Court? Duh.

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