The League of Women Voters opposes S.B. 56 SD1 to exempt from jury service endodontists, oral surgeons, and periodontists throughout the state, and dentists on an island with a population under 500,000. As we testified previously on the similar H.B. 747, we do not believe that it is in the best interest of the public or our jury system to automatically grant blanket exemptions. 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 the state of 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 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 believe that Hawaii should not further reduce the jury pool by adding a dentist-related exemption.
We urge you to hold S.B. 56 SD1. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.