Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Brown Vetoes Bill That Would Have Exempted Probation Officers From Criminal Jury Service
AB 2240 Would Also Have Applied to Parole, Correctional Officers; Measure Was Opposed by Judicial Council, CJA
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. yesterday vetoed a bill—opposed by the Judicial Council and the California Judges Association—that would have exempted probation, parole and correctional officers from jury service in criminal trials.
“Jury service is a fundamental obligation of citizenship,” Brown said in his veto message. “I am not inclined to expand the list of those exempt simply because of their occupation.”
The bill, AB 2240, was introduced by Assembly member Tim Grayson, D-Concord, at the behest of the Chief Probation Officers of California. It argued that in light of probation officers’ “post-conviction responsibilities,” service on juries in criminal trials “puts officers in a position where the defendant in a criminal trial could potentially be under their department’s jurisdiction, creating an inherent conflict of interest.”
The CJA argued:
“AB 2240 seeks to expand categorical exemptions to jury service. Amendments limited those proposed exemptions to criminal matters, thereby further complicating the jury administration process. Proponents assert than this exemption is needed for public safety and privacy purposes. Respectfully, this just isn’t the case: any prospective juror can request, and judges giant, private conversations about their reasons they are unable to serve. Further, it seems that corrections can appropriately manage caseloads to avoid the rare conflict of an officer who has served on a jury to prevent later supervision of that defendant.”
The measure—which would have been known as the “Trial Jury Selection and Management Act”—passed the Assembly on May 31 by a vote of 59-7 and was approved by the Senate on Aug. 24 by a vote of 27-9.
Prior to 1975, persons in 17 occupations were exempted from jury service. These included attorneys, doctors, dentists, faith healers, teachers, telephone and telegraph operators and railroad employees.
In 1975, the Code of Civil Procedure was amended to remove all categorical exemptions. Section §204(b) now provides:
“An eligible person may be excused from jury service only for undue hardship, upon themselves or upon the public, as defined by the Judicial Council.”
However, through the years, various exemptions have been enacted, including those, in both civil and criminal cases, for California Highway Patrol officers and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District police officers.
A 2015 bill, SB-428, would have granted exemptions to a broad range of peace officers, but the bill died in committee.
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