BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      AB 87


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          Date of Hearing:  March 17, 2015


                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY


                                  Mark Stone, Chair


          AB  
                   87 (Mark Stone) - As Introduced  January 7, 2015


          SUBJECT:  JURORS: PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES


          KEY ISSUE:  SHOULD EXISTING LAW PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION IN  
          THE EXERCISE OF PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES BE CLARIFIED?


                                      SYNOPSIS


          This non-controversial bill would update the statute that  
          prohibits discrimination in the exercise of peremptory  
          challenges to prospective jurors to clarify that the grounds  
          prohibited by other laws regarding discrimination by the state  
          and state-funded entities also apply to the exercise of  
          peremptory challenges to prospective jurors.  


          This bill is identical to a bill introduced in 2014 by Assembly  
          Member Ting (AB 2646) that passed this Committee and the  
          Assembly, but was changed to another subject in the Senate.   


          SUMMARY:  Clarifies the prohibition against discrimination in  
          the exercise of peremptory challenges to prospective jurors.   
          Specifically, this bill aligns existing non-discrimination law  
          with jury selection law by defining discriminatory peremptory  
          challenges as those categories listed within subdivision (a) of  
          Section 11135 of the Government Code, including race, national  








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          origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual  
          orientation, color, genetic information or disability. 


          EXISTING LAW:


          1)Provides that no eligible person shall be exempt from service  
            as a trial juror by reason of occupation, economic status, or  
            any characteristic listed or defined in Section 11135 of the  
            Government Code (as set out in item #3 below), or for any  
            other reason.  (Code of Civil Procedure section 204.)  


          2 Provides that a party may not use a peremptory challenge to  
            remove a prospective juror on the basis of an assumption that  
            the prospective juror is biased merely because of his or her  
            race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual  
            orientation, or similar grounds.  (Code of Civil Procedure  
            section 231.5.)


          3 Prohibits discrimination by the state and state-funded  
            entities in all programs or activities with respect to race,  
            national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age,  
            sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or  
            disability, as defined.  (Government Code section 11135.)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  The author explains the reason for the bill as  
          follows:


               The jury system provides the foundation for the  
               California justice system.  We rely upon an impartial  
               jury to yield fair and just results.  The jury, by  
               law, should be a cross section of the population in a  
               community.  Without specific protection from  








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               peremptory challenges that are based on the assumption  
               of bias, because of gender identity, gender expression  
               and other innate characteristics, it is possible for  
               many community members to be excluded from prospective  
               jury service.  


               Under existing law, there is no specific protection  
               from peremptory challenges based on the assumption of  
               bias as a result of gender identity, gender  
               expression, ethnicity, age, genetic information, and  
               disability.  This bill aims to protect against  
               discrimination and ensure all aforementioned parties  
               are treated equally under the law with regard to jury  
               service and trial by a jury of their peers.


          This Bill Updates The Peremptory Challenge Statute To Make Clear  
          That It May Not Be Used To Discriminate Against Prospective  
          Jurors On Grounds Otherwise Prohibited.  Existing law sets forth  
          a list of characteristics on which peremptory challenges to  
          prospective jurors may not be based.  That list has not been  
          updated to reflect changes in the state's general  
          non-discrimination statute, section 11135 of the Government  
          Code, which arguably already governs peremptory challenges by  
          generally prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race,  
          national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age,  
          sex, sexual orientation, color, genetic information, or  
          disability in any program or activity that is conducted,  
          operated or administered by the state or any state agency,  
          funded directly by the state, or receives any financial  
          assistance from the state.


          While the existing catch-all provision prohibiting  
          discrimination on "similar grounds" might be interpreted to  
          cover all characteristics within section 11135 of the Government  
          Code, this bill would make the point explicit and therefore give  
          potentially helpful guidance to courts, parties and their  
          counsel.










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          Prior Related Legislation:  AB 2646 (Ting) of 2014 was identical  
          to this bill; it passed this Committee and the Assembly, but was  
          changed to another subject in the Senate.  


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:


          Support


          American Civil Liberties Union of California 
          AFSCME
          California Communities United Institute
          California Public Defenders Association
          National Center for Lesbian Rights
          Transgender Law Center
          28 Individuals




          Opposition


          None on file


          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Khadijah Hargett/JUD./(916) 319-2334




















                                                                      AB 87


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