Expanding the sources from which the single juror source list is compiled annually by the Assignment Judge of each county to create a more diverse pool of juror candidates, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter was approved by full Assembly on Thursday, 76-1-0.
”The public’s engagement and trust in the court system is dependent on jury diversity,” said Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Jurors from a cross-section of the community bring different life experiences and perspectives to jury deliberations which can lead to more informed discussions and greater public confidence in the judicial process. With this bill, we help to ensure that the age, race, and socio-economic status of the courts’ communities are reflected in the juror pools.
Under current law, the names of persons eligible for jury services are selected from a merger of the following lists: registered voters, licensed drivers, filers of State gross income tax returns and filers of homestead rebate or credit application forms.
This bill (A-4275) would include NJ Family Care Program eligibility identification cardholders, welfare plan identification cardholders, non-driver identification cards issued pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Commission, public utility customers, and persons applying for or receiving unemployment insurance, cash assistance, housing assistance, home energy assistance, medical assistance, or food stamps pursuant to a State program in the juror source list.
The legislation was among several social justice reform bills approved by the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee on Tuesday, of which Assemblywoman Sumter chairs.