Sacramento – California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Assembly Bill 87, legislation that will promote and protect the right of all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to serve on a jury.
“The jury system provides the foundation for California’s justice system; it is designed to yield just and fair results for defendants and victims alike. This new law will take a modest but necessary step to ensure that defendants are allowed a trial by an impartial jury that reflects a cross section of the population in a community,” said Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), the bill’s author. “Additionally, without this protection, prospective jurors could be denied the right to participate in the justice system and complete their civic duty.”
AB 87 updates current law prohibiting discriminatory peremptory challenges during the jury selection process by prohibiting such challenges if a prospective juror is assumed to have a bias because of his or her gender identity, gender expression, ethnic group identification, genetic information or disability. Under existing law, peremptory challenges are prohibited for most, but not the above protected classes of individuals.
“Trial by a jury of your peers is a core part of our legal system,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, a sponsor of the measure. “But a jury can’t represent the necessary cross-section of the population when potential jurors are excluded based on gender identity or other characteristics. This law ensures that transgender people cannot be barred from jury service simply because of who they are.”
A peremptory challenge is the removal of a prospective juror from serving on the jury panel without providing a reason. During a trial, the prosecution and defense are allowed a certain number of peremptory challenges. AB 87 will align its non-discrimination code with its jury code to ensure that transgender individuals and others are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as other Californians.
California has led the country in ensuring that transgender people are protected from discrimination and treated equally under California law. Recently enacted laws now allow transgender people to amend their name and gender on birth certificates without a court order, participate in school activities and use school facilities in alignment with their gender identity, and have their death certificates reflect their gender identity.
AB 87 goes into effect on January 1, 2016.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org