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California Senate approves noncitizens serving on juries

August 19, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • People line up to enter Los Angeles County Superior Court. The state Senate voted Monday to allow noncitizens to serve on juries.
People line up to enter Los Angeles County Superior Court. The state Senate… (Rick Meyer / Los Angeles…)

The state Senate on Monday approved legislation that would allow noncitizen immigrants who are in the country legally to serve on juries.

The measure, approved in a 25-11 party-line vote, would change the law reserving jury service to citizens to also include “lawful permanent immigrants.”

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said the proposed change is the latest reform to a system that previously barred non-whites and women from jury service.

“Immigrants are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members,” De Leon said during the floor debate. “They are part of the fabric of our community. They benefit from the protections of our laws, so it’s fair that we ask them to also share the obligation to serve jury duty.”

Supporters note that names picked for jury service are drawn from the Department of Motor Vehicle lists, which include noncitizens, and argued it would be less costly not to have to separate names from that list.

Republicans did not speak on the bill before the vote.

AB 1401 was introduced by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and has been approved by the Assembly but returns to that house for action on minor changes.


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