Policy Jury

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The Pollonan policy jury is a system of independent review, vetting, and decision making processes that involve randomly selected Pollonan citizens. The policy juries, otherwise known as "citizen's commissions," specially convened committees composed of citizens, selected via sortition, give public input on measures of high importance and help guide public. A typical citizen's commission is tasked with the review of a government body, political appointment, or policy decision. The policy jury collects evidence and subsequently produces an opinion of the jurors, which in some cases is legally binding on the government. The process is an extension of Pollona's constitutional doctrine of Legal Populism, that the state functions best with the maximum input of "citizen lawmakers". The organization and function of policy juries close mirrors that of a trial jury.

=Process

The Pollonan government is required, by statute, to summon a policy jury for a government department's decadadal review, or whenever there are proposed appointments of certain high-ranking public officials, like members of the Supreme Court. Additionally, the President may summon a policy jury by simple decree, or at the insistence of a resolution from Parliament. Typically these non-mandatory committees are called to scrutinize government policy, to chair investigations of national officials, or to examine a specified subject of national importance.

The Ministry of Justice and the Audit Commission are tasked with summoning potential jurors. Using a database of national address and tax records, a computer algorithm randomly selects a pool of names. The Ministry of Justice distributing this initial list to relevant local officials such as civil servants, police officers, and court workers. These local officials then conduct background checks and host interviews at a designated office (usually a police station or government building), closest to the candidate's address. Once the pool of candidates has been narrowed down, a list of "screened citizens" is reviewed in Liberec by an examining committee of retired judges, interest organizations, and civil servants. The exact identities of the candidates are concealed from the review committee. The examining committee is tasked with eliminating candidates with potential conflicts-of-interest, and dismissing candidates who wish to recuse themselves for legally provided exceptions.

The committee passes on its "short list" of candidates to the Ministry of Justice and Audit Commission; the government summons the remaining citizens to Liberec for a final examination by the review committee. The remaining applications are vetted again, and are gradually eliminated until the committee is left with the "least-objectionable" jurors. From its remaining pool, the committee randomly selects a group of 24 citizens, who will form the policy jury. The initial catchment pool must be large enough to ensure this process will produce a commission seen to be "fair" or "unbiased" in the public eye. The initial random selection will often return 4 to 5,000 names. During this process, citizens are compensated for their travel and time-off from work (if any), just as if they were serving on a trial jury.

Function

The 24 jurors elect a chairman who communicates regularly with government officials. The policy jury is facilitated by a secretary and a staff of civil servants, also independently selected, whose primary task is to facilitate the smooth function of the policy jury. This may require summoning witnesses, collecting testimony, organizing evidence, and recording proceedings. Policy juries may sit for no more than 6 months, which is the statutory limit.

If required to vet a government appointment, the policy jury will either accept or reject the candidate via majority vote. In either scenario the jurors may provide individual, anonymous feedback to support their position. The jury's decision must be honored.

If auditing a government department, the policy jury will produce a report with its insights, positive findings, and recommendations for the better function of the department; these include budget cuts, organizational reform, and procedural changes. The policy jury's changes are submitted to the Audit Commission, and ultimately to Parliament for a vote.

If examining a government proposal, the policy jury may produce a series of differing reports. A simple majority vote will determine the "majority report" of the policy jury to the government. The recommendations may or may not be binding; this is dependent on the President or Parliament's wording of the commissions enabling resolution.

If investigating a government department (not an audit) or public official, the policy jury may produce a series of differing reports on their findings. A simple majority vote will determine the "majority report". If the "majority report" recommends legal action, the Department of Justice is required to start an investigation and ultimately, bring the case to a public trial.

Exemptions and Prohibitions

Citizens can refuse to serve on a policy jury for a specific number of reasons: Parents with children under the age of 10, citizens over the age of 80, patients with physical or mental disabilities, and persons serving in the armed forces may recuse themselves.

According to the Integrity of External Audits Act, the Pollonan Legal code, and several legal judgments, there are a number or disqualifications the Audit Committee should consider during the jury selection process. First is the "government relations" exclusion. Civil servants and their immediate family members are automatically excluded if said civil servant belongs to a government department under audit. This definition also includes military personnel for military branches under review. All employees of a company with a government contract in an audited department are excluded, as are outside advisers. This does not prevent these groups from giving testimony to the policy jury, or submitting evidence.

Examples