THE HONORABLE ROBERT C.
LEUBA, CHIEF COURT ADMINISTRATOR ON THE IMPORTANCE OF USING SOCIAL
SECURITY NUMBERS FOR JURY SELECTION
Current state law requires Connecticut municipalities to provide social security
numbers to the Connecticut Judicial Branch for jury selection purposes. The language in
P.A. 97-200, the act which authorized Judicials use of social security numbers,
clearly specifies each towns responsibility under the law:
". . . Upon the request of the jury administrator, the registrar
of voters of each town shall supply a list of all electors from their town. . . . The
lists supplied to the jury administrator under this subsection shall be in the format
prescribed by the jury administrator and shall include, at a minimum, the name,
address and, if available, the federal social security number and date of birth of each
person on such list or the reason for the unavailability." (emphasis added)
A claim has been made that the federal Social Security Act prohibits the use of social
security numbers for jury selection purposes. To the contrary, the United States Congress,
recognizing the need for jury administrators to avoid the burden and inconvenience of
duplicate summonses, amended the Social Security Privacy Act to specifically authorize the
use of social security numbers. The federal law includes the following language:
". . . any State . . . may utilize the social security numbers
issued by the Commissioner of Social Security for the additional purposes. . . .
Identifying duplicate names of individuals on master lists for jury selection purposes. .
To better understand the Judicial Branchs need for these numbers, some
background is helpful. The jury administrator is required by statute to compile a list of
jurors that is comprised of names of (1) licensed drivers, (2) state taxpayers, (3)
recipients of unemployment and (4) all registered voters. The use of these multiple lists,
which was mandated by the state legislature in 1996, has resulted in a pool of names that
numbers 6.2 million nearly twice the size of the population of the state of
Connecticut. Obviously, a list of that size includes duplicate names. The use of social
security numbers is essential to help us eliminate instances of duplicate summonses.
Duplicate summonses are costly and inconvenient to both the state and the individuals
summoned and they result in wasted resources. For the individuals who are summoned, it is
an inconvenience to notify jury administration to have the second (or third) summons
cancelled. To make matters worse, many dont realize that they have received a
separate summons and assume the additional mailing is for the same date. Failure to
respond to an additional summons results in the issuance of a ticket for an infraction
that carries a $90 fine. Multiple summonses cost extra tax dollars for unnecessary
postage, handling, printing and sorting. They also take up the time and resources of the
jury staff who must respond to inquiries from unhappy citizens who, justifiably, want to
know why they have received more than one summons.
The Judicial Branch does not release the social security numbers obtained for this
purpose to any entity for any reason. Numbers are kept strictly confidential and discarded
after use in a manner that ensures continued confidentiality.
The Attorney General, in a letter last year to former Chief Court Administrator Judge
Aaron Ment, suggested that this matter be reviewed by the State Legislature. The Judiciary
Committee of the Legislature considered this issue during the last legislative session,
but did not vote to change the current law.
The Judicial Branch is and has been willing to work with other agencies to formulate
alternate methods of verifying the identities of duplicate names appearing on the jury
list. Unfortunately, there are no immediate alternatives available. Presently, the use of
these numbers is the best method we have at our disposal to avoid the difficulties
associated with multiple summonses and is required by law.