Apr 26 2013

Mercury News: Bill would allow non-citizens to serve as California jurors

Newswire | Published 26 Apr 2013, 8:45 am | Comments Off on Mercury News: Bill would allow non-citizens to serve as California jurors -

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SACRAMENTO — The California Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that would make the state the first in the nation to allow noncitizens who are in the country legally to serve on jury duty.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said his bill, AB 1401, would help California widen the pool of prospective jurors and help integrate immigrants into the community.

It does not change other criteria for being eligible to serve on a jury, such as being at least 18, living in the county that is making the summons and being proficient in English.

The bill passed 45-25 largely on a party-line vote in the Democratic-controlled Assembly and will move on to the Senate. One Democrat — Assemblyman Adam Gray, of Merced — voted no, while some other Democrats did not vote.

Democratic lawmakers who voted for the bill said there is no correlation between being a citizen and a juror, and they noted that there is no citizenship requirement to be an attorney or a judge. Republican lawmakers who opposed Wieckowski’s bill called it misguided and premature.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, said there is no shortage of jurors.

“Jury selection is not the problem. The problem is trial court funding,” Harkey said before the vote. “I hope we can focus on that. Let’s not break something; it’s not broken now. Let’s not whittle away at what is reserved for U.S. citizens. There’s a reason for it.”


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