In a continued effort to ensure a more representative jury pool in the State of California, the Fair Federal Juries Act was unanimously advanced by the California Senate Judiciary Committee on January 12, 2022. SB 592 calls for an expansion of jury pools in federal cases allowing them to summon jurors based on the state tax filing lists.
The policy behind the bill is to increase diversity and demographically representative juries in the federal court system. Currently, the jury pool is selected from a much narrower pool and only uses lists comprised of registered voters and driver’s license or identification card holders.
Proponents of the bill argue that most of jurors currently called for service hail from wealthier segments of society and point to studies that show that this method ignores thousands of potential jurors who may add racial and socioeconomic diversity to juries. Now any person who files taxes in California could find a summons in their mailbox.
On his web page, Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the California Senator who introduced the bill, states, “SB 271 is an important piece of the puzzle of how we can remake our criminal justice system to be fairer and less racially and socioeconomically biased. More representative juries lead to a more equitable criminal justice system, where trial are heard by a more representative cross section of our community.”