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Pa. auditor general strikes out as York County juror

Liz Evans Scolforo
505-5429/@LizScolforoYD
  • Pennsylvania's auditor general spent four days in York County Court after being called for jury duty.
  • Eugene DePasquale didn't get selected as a juror, but he found plenty to do in downtown York.

Pennsylvania's auditor general couldn't catch a break during the four days he spent serving jury duty at the York County Judicial Center.

"It was comical how difficult it was for me to get picked for a jury," Eugene DePasquale told The York Dispatch on Friday, after being released from service without having been selected as a juror.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale made the most of York County jury duty the week of Sept. 12, 2016, by going to Central Market and bumping into friends and acquaintances.
(Photo courtesy of Shawn Fink)

But while the state's chief fiscal watchdog said he would have liked to sit on a jury, he's not complaining.

"I view it as part of citizenship, doing jury duty," said DePasquale, of West Manchester Township. "You want fair trials? ... We all have to take part in this."

Plus, spending Monday through Thursday in York City was like old-home week for him during lunch hour.

"I did get to go to Market on Tuesday and Thursday," he said. "And I got some good Thai ... at Esaan."

Read, chatted: DePasquale bumped into a number of people he knows, he said, and was able to get a bit of reading done while waiting in the central jury room.

He brought with him a book by President Jimmy Carter and the Alexander Hamilton biography everyone's reading.

Also, some of DePasquale's fellow would-be jurors talked to him about his job.

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"Everything from things they wanted to see audited to, 'When are you auditing my school district?'" he said. "For some people it was a way to pass the time."

He was able to get some work done during the day, but mostly he caught up with work at night, he said.

Some hurdles: DePasquale would not have been able to serve on a jury in the courtroom of York County Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner, because he previously served as the judge's campaign chair, he said.

Also, his office is responsible for auditing all police department pension funds, and it was criminal court term, so police were involved in pretty much every case.

"In one of the cases ... the charge that was levied against the defendant was almost the same thing my dad spent time in prison for when I was younger," DePasquale said. His dad served nearly 10 years on a drug-trafficking charge — something DePasquale said was simply "part of my life."

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That made him not the best choice for a drug-dealing trial in which attorney George Margetas was defense counsel.

Plus, DePasquale said, Margetas is a West York school board member, and the auditor general audits all the state's school districts.

But Margetas said it wasn't him who rejected DePasquale as a juror — it was the prosecution.

"I know him and he would've made a great commonwealth juror ... because of how he thinks," the attorney said.

Familiarity issue: Margetas said the prosecution did the right thing by striking DePasquale because "it's just not smart" to have a juror who knows opposing counsel.

"It's a familiarity that's already built in," he said.

Margetas admitted that if the prosecution hadn't nixed the auditor general, he would have. (The commonwealth won a conviction in that case.)

"I would love to be on a jury, but that's never going to happen for me, either," the attorney said in commiseration.

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DePasquale said he's not frustrated that he didn't get chosen.

Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness even made light of it as the judge sent a group of dismissed jurors back to the central jury room.

"He said, 'Hey, the auditor general isn't complaining, so you can do this, too,'" said DePasquale, who is running for re-election.

He said he knows serving jury duty isn't easy for some people, including people who earn an hourly wage and people trying to run a small business.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.