California Assembly Seal

Senate next takes up the proposal, which would apply to legal residents. One of the bill’s authors says it would expand jury pool and help immigrants integrate.

By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2013, 10:30 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — California would allow noncitizens to serve on juries under a proposal being considered by state lawmakers, potentially expanding a fundamental obligation of American life to millions more people.

The measure, which would apply only to legal residents, would make California the only state to open the jury box to noncitizens who meet all other requirements of service, according to legal experts.

The proposal raises the question of what it means to be judged by peers in a state where more than one in seven residents is not a citizen.

One of the bill’s authors, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), said the proposal would help ensure an adequate pool of jurors, help immigrants integrate into American society and make juries more representative of California.

Juries “should reflect our community, and our community is always changing,” Wieckowski said. “It’s time for California to be a leader on this.”

The Assembly passed the bill this week on a party-line vote, with most Democrats lining up in favor and Republicans standing in opposition.

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