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Monday, October 7, 2013

Noncitizens and Juries: A Bill Veto

Patrick McGreevy reports at The Los Angeles Times that Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) has vetoed a bill allowing legal aliens to serve on juries.
Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don’t think that’s right.”

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), said he was disappointed that the governor vetoed the jury bill. "Lawful permanent immigrants are part of the fabric of our communities, and they benefit from the protections of our laws, so it is fair and just that they be asked to share in the obligation to do jury duty, just as they serve in our courts, schools, police departments and armed forces," Wieckowski said. "I don’t see anything wrong with imposing this civic obligation on immigrants who can spend the rest of their lives in the United States.”
The bill, AB 1401, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, divided the Legislature, with Republicans including Sen. Joel Anderson of Alpine arguing that serving as a juror is a special calling that warrants the special standing that citizenship provides. Other countries have different standards for guilt, innocence and due process, he noted.

“Allowing non-citizens to serve on juries threatens the integrity of our judicial system,” Anderson said. “In this country, we believe in due process and you’re innocent until proven guilty. Having non-citizens on a jury will deny people from getting a fair trial.”