Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The old time Grand Jury Wheel

The Courthouse in Media from 1906, still at the same location. The building was remodeled and added to in 1914


Note: In the old days a jury wheel was used to pick jurors to serve, Please read and see how it was used  years ago.


The Jury Wheel

There are few people in this county who know how citizens are selected as jurors.  Since the county has been a county it has been a lottery as to who would become a member of the Grand Jury or a member of the Petit Jury.
            The wheel presented in this picture looks like a crude instrument, but yet for nearly a century hands have been going in and coming out of this wheel making the selection of the jurors by lottery.
            But few persons have had the opportunity of watching the operation of drawing the jury in the past century.  The jury wheel now in use was first used in the city of Chester, which was then the county seat.  When the courthouse was removed in Media, the old wheel or a “Cheese box,” as many call it, was some of the relics taken from Chester to Media.  It has done duty ever since.
            For the benefit of those who are not acquainted with the manner in which jurors are selected this article is written.
            In the first instance, the judge of judges upon the bench designate the number of names that are to be placed therein.
            The Sheriff then, under the authority of law, is directed to draw from the historic wheel the number of names designated by the Court within 35 days of the session of the Court.
            On the day set by the Sheriff and the two jury commissioners meet to fulfill this order of the Court.  The old wheel is then taken from the safe, the names of the Sheriff, the Jury-Commissioners and Judge, which were written at the previous drawing, are taken from the wheel by one of the above named in authority.
            Books, which are used in the Sheriff’s office, are placed under the wheel so as to hold it in position.  The Sheriff takes the first draw and is then followed by the Jury Commissioners in order of their party.  These men alternate in drawing from the wheel until the close of the drawing.
            At the close, the names of the Judge and the Jury Commissioners and the Sheriff are written upon a slip of paper, secured by sealing wax and then the wheel is replaced in the safe in the Sheriff’s office.
            Many persons have the idea that they can be drawn as jurors on the Grand Jury or on the Petit Jury just as the officers in charge of the work desire, but this is not the case.  They are drawn in accordance with the law.  The first 34 names drawn from the wheel are known as members of the Grand Jury.  Then the names of the citizens which come out of the wheel are placed in order in accordance with the direction of the Court, whether it be 55, 63, 0r 75 for each week.
            The drawing of the Jury is a feature of the political conditions that few have any knowledge of, but which is one of the most important characteristics of our civil government.

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