California bill would let non-citizens serve on juries
Story by 13 On Your Side Newsroom
SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- The California Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that would make the state the first in the nation to allow non-citizens who are in the country legally to serve on jury duty.
Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski said his bill 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 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."
Wieckowski's office said the bill is the first of its kind in the nation and suggested that courts regularly struggle to find enough prospective jurors because jury duty is often seen as an inconvenience, if not a burden. His office did not cite any statistics but pointed to a 2003 legislative report that said numerous articles have noted high rates of non-participation.
A 2007 survey by the Center for Jury Studies said 20 percent of courts across the country reported a failure to respond or failure to appear rate of 15 percent or higher. The center is run by the National Center for State Courts, a Virginia-based nonprofit dedicated to improving court systems.
It's not clear, however, if that rate translates to a shortage of jurors in California.
An estimated 10 million Californians are summoned for jury duty each year and about 4 million are eligible and available to serve, according to the Judicial Council, which administers the state's court system. About 3.2 million complete the service, meaning they waited in a courthouse assembly room or were placed on call.
In 2010-2011, the most recent year available, only about 165,000 people were sworn in as jurors.
The judicial branch has not taken a position on AB 1401.
EL CENTRO, CALIF. (13 On Your Side) - The successful construction of a new solar power project is expected to provide electricity to about 12,000 homes in Imperial Valley. The T-Solar Project was unveiledMore >>
The successful construction of a new solar power project is expected to provide electricity to about 12,000 homes in Imperial Valley.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Police are on the lookout for an arsonist suspect who lit a home on fire last week. Witnesses tell police they saw a person flee from a home in the 4800 block of WestMore >>
Police are on the lookout for an arsonist suspect who lit a home on fire last week.More >>
MESA, AZ (CBS5) - Mesa police have identified the body found in a dumpster early Friday morning as a 14-year-old Mesa girl. Police said Claudia Ann Lucero was last seen at her Mesa home about 6:30 a.m.More >>
Mesa police have identified the body found in a dumpster early Friday morning as a 14-year-old Mesa girl.More >>
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A San Diego man faces charges of operating a website that let people anonymously post explicit photographs of others, then extorting hundreds of dollars from the victims to removeMore >>
The Justice Department says Bollaert created the so-called "revenge porn" website ugotposted.com a year ago.More >>
PHOENIX (AP) - A construction worker arrested in the killing of a 14-year-old Mesa girl who was assaulted, strangled and dumped in a trash container is being held without bond. A judge Tuesday night orderedMore >>
According to Mesa police, the probable cause of death was strangulation and that Madrid was linked by DNA and other forensic evidence. More >>
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles will pay nearly $6 million to settle lawsuits by 11 police officers who claimed they were punished for failing to meet or objecting to traffic ticket quotas. Police ChiefMore >>
The Los Angeles Times says motorcycle officers in the West Traffic Division claimed they were required to write at least 18 tickets each shift and were reprimanded if they objected.More >>
PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools has ordered three charter schools that earned failing ratings on state assessment tests to close. The Arizona Charter Schools Association saysMore >>
The actions were taken after students at the schools failed statewide assessment tests three years in a row.More >>