Lima attorney challenges validity of juror pool

LIMA — Lima attorney Kenneth Rexford has filed a motion in Allen County Common Pleas Court challenging the validity of the current pool of potential jurors available to hear criminal cases.

The motion was filed Friday in the case of John Holland, 35, of Lima, who was indicted in July on charges of kidnapping and felonious assault.

The charges stem from an incident in August of 2021 during which Holland is alleged to have struck his girlfriend in the head and face repeatedly. The alleged victim told police Holland also choked her, causing her to lose consciousness, and held her against her will at a South Metcalf Street residence.

Rexford is challenging the selection of persons to be included in a petit juror pool “on the grounds that it was not selected, drawn or summoned in accordance with the law.”

Reacting to recent developments which have seen increasing numbers of potential jurors fail to appear for jury duty when summoned, Rexford cited what he claimed are “no-response problems” with 75-80% of potential jurors in two recent jury trials as well as “possible additional related problems as to grand jury” selections.

Rexford traced the problem to the Aug. 3, 2022 pool of jurors, which he said contained anomalies that are “enormous and outside of anything observed in (his) decades of practice.”

Rexford said the commissioner of jurors for Allen County Common Pleas Court relies on the election board to provide a list of registered electors, with the names of county residents who have not voted at least once during the preceding four consecutive years removed from that list.

He said the most recent juror list revealed that of 100 potential jurors summoned, 31 failed to provide responsive questionnaires to the court. Of the 100 names provided by the election board, nine were not included on the board’s online list of registered voters.

Additionally, 36 potential jurors had “absolutely no voter records,” including 24 who responded with jury questionnaires and 12 of whom did not respond, Rexford said.

“With no voter history at all, these people presumably should not have been in the pool,” he added.

Kathy Meyer, director of the county board of elections office, said Monday that the list of voters eligible to be called for jury duty that was submitted to the courts is up to date and accurate.

“There are no purged people on the list and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” Meyer said. “We have checked our file and our file is good.”

Rexford’s motion requested Judge Terri Kohlrieser to conduct an evidentiary hearing to examine the “data and procedures at the Allen County Board of Elections” which he claims suggests that voter rolls may not have been purged in accordance with state law.

Several potential jurors who ignored jury duty summons last month were subsequently called to appear before local judges to explain their absences.

Kohlrieser and Jeffrey Reed held several people in contempt for failing to appear for jury duty and ordered each to pay a $50 fine. One woman who became argumentative with Kohlrieser was sentenced to a brief stint in jail.