Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Should juries include non-citizens?

A California bill would expand the jury pool

An interesting bill regarding jury duty is pending in California that would expand the jury pool to non-citizens. If approved, it could set a precedent for others states grappling with lack of jurors.

To be sure, the bill is controversial. Supporters cite the need for defendants to be judged by a jury of their peers and note that non-citizens already participate in the courts, as attorneys, judges and witnesses. Critics say jury duty should be reserved for citizens only.

What do you think?

New Jersey juror requirements

In New Jersey, the law says that you must meet the following requirements to serve as a juror.

  • Must be a citizen of the United States

  • Must be a legal resident of New Jersey 
Must be a legal resident of the county in which you are summoned 
Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be physically and mentally able to serve on a jury
  • Must not have been convicted of an indictable offense

  • Must be able to read and understand English

California's juror requirements

California’s juror laws have similar requirements and exclusions. If passed, California’s AB1401 would still require all jurors to meet all other requirements.

The analysis of the California bill notes that expanding the juror pool to legal residents who haven’t yet become citizens would help courts meet the need to find more jurors. “Jury duty is a societal obligation that many see as an inconvenience, if not a burden, and it is well known that courts regularly struggle to find enough prospective jurors to meet their needs.”

New Jersey failure to appear

Many states have shortages of jurors, who fail to appear even after being summoned. In New Jersey, failure to appear when summoned to be a juror can have serious consequences. Judges can Issue a bench warrant, fine you up to $500.00, impose community service, enter a civil judgment against you, and/or hold you in contempt of court.

Photo credit: zzpza


  1. I do not think so. How would you even think that a jury can be a non-citizen person? In our nation, there have lots of wise people who can be a jury and there was a lot of chances from these wise people in the California criminal records.