On Friday Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would expand the jury pool to include anyone who files taxes. Wiener believes the bill will ensure jurys are more diverse and demographically representative of California's population.
Existing state law gives the courts access to lists of registered voters and licensed drivers or identification card holders, but Wiener insists the people on those lists don't reflect California's diversity. As a result, jury pools tend to skew whiter and wealthier than the people on trial.
"Trial by jury of one's peers is fundamental to our democracy, and a representative jury pool is crucial to making that principle a reality," said Senator Wiener. "Our current system for selecting jury pools undermines our ability to ensure people have a jury of their peers. We need to include all Californians on our jury lists, not just those who are registered to vote who have a driver's license."
Wiener also has the backing of the California Public Defenders Association.
"Broadening the jury pool to obtain a more accurate cross-section of the community strengthens the entire legal system," said CPDA President Oscar Bobrow. "For juries to speak on behalf of the community, they must fairly reflect that community. We welcome Senator Weiner’s leadership on this critical reform."
The legislation was co-authored by Democratic state Senator Nancy Skinner of Oakland.