The League of Women Voters opposes H.B. 747 to add dentists as a group exempt from jury service. We do not believe that it is in the best interest of the public to automatically grant a blanket exemption to dentists. The existing process allows people with valid reasons to be excused from jury duty, and we feel this is sufficient. There does not appear to be a sound reason for this additional exemption.
Rather, we believe the need is for a sufficiently broad and diverse jury pool comprised of all citizens who are qualified to serve. This is certainly of great importance to litigants. It also helps ensure that citizens have an equal opportunity to serve their community by participating in the trial process.
As a point of interest, in 2006, Indiana made a legislative change to drop all exemptions from jury service, and the Indiana Chief Justice said that the change means that Indiana's juries will include a more representative group of people than ever before. While some states do exempt doctors and dentists, the Indiana example may indicate that states are rethinking their jury exemptions. In any case, we certainly believe that Hawaii should not reduce the jury pool by adding an exemption for dentists.
We urge you to hold H.B. 747. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.