AirTalk

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Should legal immigrants who aren’t citizens serve on juries?

by AirTalk

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Should non-citizens serve on California juries? Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Under a law proposed by the California state assembly, the Golden State would be the first in the nation to allow non-citizens to serve on juries as long as they meet all the other requirements of jury service (jurors must be 18, proficient in English, and have no felony record).

While to opponents the idea sounds like a departure from one of the basic tenants of American life--the right to be judged by a jury of one’s peers--those in favor of the change argue that, in a state where one in seven residents are not citizens, the law is simply reflecting the reality of living in California. Supporters also site the need for a larger pool of potential jurors as a reason to open the criteria.

Does the inclusion of non-citizens on juries weaken or strengthen the verdicts they hand down? Would non-citizens fully grasp the importance of sitting on a jury, or might they take it more seriously than American citizens who sometimes consider jury duty a hassle?

Guests: 

Bob Wiecowski, California state assemblyman representing the 25th District, which encompasses parts of San Jose and the South Bay Area

Rocky Chavez, California state assemblyman representing the 76th District, which includes most of coastal northern San Diego County, including Oceanside and Carlsbad

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