BUTLER, Pa.—A western Pennsylvania judge has barred his county's two lame-duck jury commissioners from the jury selection process, citing an unspecified attorney general's investigation.

The attorney general's office has refused to confirm or deny the investigation—which is office policy—but one Butler County official confirms he and two other officials have recently been questioned by the state prosecutor's offices about jury questionnaires they all received on the same day in October.

The jury commissioners, Clint Bonetti and Jon Galante, haven't returned reporters' requests for comment.

County Commissioners A. Dale Pinkerton and Bill McCarrier voted in May to eliminate the jury commissioner jobs at the end of this year, saying it would save the county money.

McCarrier confirmed that he, Pinkerton and county solicitor Mike English, who advises the commissioners on legal matters and also favored abolishing the jury commissioner positions, all received jury questionnaires in October.

The questionnaires are sent to county residents who are supposed to be randomly picked by a computer. Therefore, the likelihood of all three county officials being selected at the same time would seem to be very low.

A jury commissioners' job is to process the questionnaires and determine which people are eligible for jury pools, from which attorneys select jurors.

Nobody involved would comment on the specifics of the investigation, but McCarrier said the coincidental questionnaires and Common Pleas Judge Thomas Doerr's Nov.


Advertisement

22 order relieving Bonetti and Galante of their duties are related.

"It's all part of the same thing," McCarrier said.

The judge's order mentions, but doesn't describe, the attorney general's investigation. The order required Bonetti and Galante to turn in their key cards, removed their access to county computers and voicemail, and barred them from their offices. They're still being paid through the end of the year, after which the positions will be abolished subject to the May vote by the county commissioners.

The county's court administrator said the court is expected to appoint two people to oversee jury selections until court administrative staff can take over the duties next year.