California AB-3070 Targets Jury Selection In Response To Ongoing Protests

California AB-3070 Targets Jury Selection In Response To Ongoing Protests

by Jun 15, 2020

In response to recent unrest stemming from systemic police brutality, the California Legislature has never been in a better position to address the root source of sanctioned police misconduct: the courts system.

For example, the California Assembly recently passed AB-3070 regarding the use by the State of peremptory challenges during jury selections.

There is currently a prohibition against the State Prosecutors for removing potential jurors solely based on race. However, as any defense attorney (and district attorney) knows, there are ways around that. Specifically, a district attorney need only articulate a good faith basis for removal.

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Obviously, this low standard means that the prosecutor can kick people off the jury for reasons that are not expressly based on race but are closely related to race. Some of those things are:

  • Expressing a distrust of or having a negative experience with law enforcement or the criminal legal system.
  • Expressing a belief that law enforcement officers engage in racial profiling or that criminal laws have been enforced in a discriminatory manner.
  • Having a close relationship with people who have been stopped, arrested, or convicted of a crime.
  • A prospective juror’s neighborhood.
  • Having a child outside of marriage.
  • Receiving state benefits.
  • Not being a native English speaker.
  • The ability to speak another language.
  • Dress, attire, or personal appearance historically associated with members of groups listed in subdivision (b).
  • Employment in a field that is disproportionately occupied by members listed in subdivision (b) or that serves a population disproportionately comprised of members of a group or groups listed in subdivision (b).
  • Lack of employment or underemployment of the prospective juror or prospective juror’s family member.
  • A prospective juror’s apparent friendliness with another prospective juror of the same group as listed in subdivision (b).
  • The prospective juror was sleeping, inattentive, or staring or failing to make eye contact, and no reasonable notice was provided to remedy the behavior.
  • The prospective juror exhibited either a lack of rapport or problematic attitude, body language, or demeanor, and no reasonable notice was provided to remedy the behavior.
  • The prospective juror provided unintelligent or confused answers, and no reasonable notice was provided to remedy the behavior.

This potential change in the law would have a dramatic impact on the composition of juries, which I can tell you are usually overwhelmingly pro law enforcement. These are the very people you have undoubtedly heard going to great lengths to justify police misconduct, no matter how egregious the behavior.

In a system that is supposed to favor the defendant, in this respect, it has failed. This law could help rectify this problem and result in fairer, more representative juries.

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