Senator Wiener Introduces Legislation to Create Fairer, More Representative Juries

SB 1001 would broaden jury pool to including all tax filers in order to create more representative juries by race and income level
February 14, 2020

Sacramento – Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation that would expand the jury pool to include any state tax filers. This would ensure that jury pools would be more diverse and demographically representative of California’s population. Currently, juries are selected using lists of registered voters and licensed drivers or identification card holders. However, these lists are not demographically representative, and thus the jury pool pulled from these lists tend to skew whiter, wealthier, and overall less diverse than the state actually is. To ensure juries – the backbone of our justice system – are actually reflective of their communities, SB 1001 would mandate Jury Commissioners include a broader, more representative list of all tax filers when establishing jury pools.

Currently, Jury Commissioners only pull potential jurors from lists of those who are registered to vote, and those who have driver’s licenses or identification cards. Studies show that by utilizing only these two lists, California courts are deprived of thousands of eligible prospective jurors, and that racial minorities are primarily the ones negatively impacted by underrepresentation. This underrepresentation denies civil and criminal litigants of a jury pool that truly reflects their communities at large. Using the list of state tax filers will allow the courts to broaden the jury pool, pulling from a more representative list of Californians.

The California Public Defenders Association is sponsoring SB 1001. Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) is a co-author of the bill.

“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.”

“Broadening the jury pool to obtain a more accurate cross-section of the community strengthens the entire legal system,” said Oscar Bobrow, the President of the California Public Defenders Association.  
“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.”