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Non-citizen jurors?

The California assembly passed a bill on April 25 which would make it the first state in the nation to allow non-citizens to serve on jury duty. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said his bill, AB 1401, would “help California widen the pool of prospective jurors” and suggested “courts regularly struggle to find enough prospective jurors.” Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, pointed out there is no shortage of jurors. According to the Judicial Council, which administers the state’s court system, an estimated 10 million Californians are summoned for jury duty annually, about 4 million of which are eligible and available to serve. About 3.2 million complete the service, meaning they appeared in a courthouse or were placed on call. In 2010-2011, the most recent statistics available, only 165,000 were actually sworn into service as jurors. By my math, that leaves over 3 million available and willing jurors who are U.S. citizens and not required to serve.

There is a reason that certain privileges and responsibilities are reserved for those who are citizens of our country. If we are going to allow non-citizens to sit on juries, why not allow them to vote, or to hold office? Does citizenship no longer mean anything in the United States?

Terry McLaughlin



Nevada City


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