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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 2064

Relating to
Jury Service

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor (JDL) - chair: Taniguchi, vice chair: Hee

Friday, February 22, 2008, 10:00 a.m. Conference Room 016

Testifier: JoAnn Maruoka, Legislative Team member, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view SB2064

The League of Women Voters opposes S.B. 2064 to add psychologists as yet another group that is exempt from jury service. As we have before testified on this bill, we do not believe that it is in the best interest of the public to automatically grant a blanket exemption to psychologists. The existing process allows people with valid reasons to be excused from jury duty, which is sufficient. There does not appear to be a sound reason for this additional exemption.

Rather, we believe the need is for a 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. After all, jury service represents one of our most important civic responsibilities as citizens.

As of January 1, 2008 New York State repealed all 27 former exemptions and disqualifications for jury duty, which included doctors, dentists, and psychologists, as well as clergymen, lawyers, elected officials, judges and others. The New York legislation, sponsored by the state senator who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to increase the pool of potential jurors in the state, by number and by professions represented, and to effectively increase fairness. In 2006, Indiana made a legislative change to drop all exemptions that previously allowed entire categories of people to avoid 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. The New York and Indiana examples indicate that states are rethinking their jury exemptions. In any case, we certainly believe that Hawaii should not further reduce its jury pool by adding an exemption for psychologists.

In the best interests of the people and our judicial system, we urge you to hold S.B. 2064. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


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