Commission Considers Jury Space Upgrades

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Commissioners will consider a $250,000 upgrade of the Shelby County Jury Commission space at 157 Poplar Ave. during their Monday, April 9, meeting.

The meeting at the Vasco Smith Administration Building, 160 N. Main St., begins at 1:30 p.m.

The upgrade of the area where several hundred citizens at a time wait to be called to be part of jury pools in state criminal and civil courts is the last part of a nearly two-year renovation of what is known as the County Office Building.

The Shelby County Trustee’s office completed its move last week from the administration building to 157 Poplar Ave. The Trustee office is sharing the building with the Shelby County Election Commission and the jury commission.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz questioned last month whether the waiting area should have more electrical outlets for citizens with digital devices.

“I don’t think you can have enough of those,” Ritz said last month in committee sessions as he recounted his recent time serving jury duty.

Cliff Norville, deputy administrator of support services, said there are plans in the renovation of the room to add more outlets and an area for those with digital devices.

“That is the most inefficient colossal waste of time that I have ever experienced.”

–County  Commissioner Brent Taylor

The funding on Monday’s agenda allows for several options in the renovation of the room, which has 400 theater chairs that are bolted to the floor in rows. The chairs may stay where they are and be cleaned or they may be removed and put in a different configuration.

Some of the flooring has come loose and will have to be replaced. Norville said the flooring has asbestos containing adhesive that will have to be dealt with in some way.

Commissioner Brent Taylor also questioned whether the jury selection method could operate more efficiently so citizens selected for the larger pool of possible jurors wouldn’t have to wait there to be called.

“That is the most inefficient colossal waste of time that I have ever experienced other than sitting through a car inspection line,” Taylor said of his experience. “I can’t believe there’s not another way to call juries. … We’re still operating on a 1950s model.”