|Posted:||September 19, 2019 10:28 AM|
|From:||Representative Joanna E. McClinton|
|To:||All House members|
|The right to an impartial jury trial is enshrined in the United States Constitution and is one of the bedrocks of our legal system. While great strides have recently been made with regards to criminal justice reform across the nation and right here in Pennsylvania, how we structure our juries must be examined and transformed.
Currently, Pennsylvania bars anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year from ever serving on a jury. This includes crimes such as murder and other felonies, but also encompasses misdemeanors of the first and second degrees. As such, Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states to have such strict exclusions regarding juror qualifications. If an individual has served their time and is trying to be a productive member of society, why are we forbidding them to ever serve on a jury? Such a blanket ban is discriminatory and makes it difficult in certain areas to have a jury truly reflective of the community at large.
My legislation will take the first step in righting this wrong by allowing people who have committed misdemeanors to serve on juries throughout the Commonwealth. If this legislation is enacted, Pennsylvania would join the vast majority of other states on this issue.
I ask my colleagues to join me in breaking down yet another roadblock that returning citizens face once they return to their communities, and making juries more reflective of the population at large.
Introduced as HB2037