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Proposed changes to New Jersey’s jury exclusion laws

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Criminal law

Formerly incarcerated individuals are spearheading a legislative initiative in New Jersey that could improve jury selection.

These efforts aim to amend the state’s stringent jury exclusion laws, which are among the nation’s strictest. New Jersey’s laws currently prevent anyone with an indictable offense from serving on a jury, which negatively impacts diversity in jury pools.

Current laws and proposed changes

New Jersey’s current jury exclusion policy impacts about 7% of all adults and 25% of Black adults in the state. Excluding people with indictable offenses makes juries less representative. Juries do not reflect the demographic makeup of communities, potentially harming the fairness of trials.

To fix this gap, the state legislature is considering Assembly Bill 834. The bill seeks to change the exclusion criteria. It would allow people not currently in jail for a serious offense to serve on juries. Those with indictable offenses can serve on juries under appropriate circumstances. However, the new policy would still exclude those convicted of murder or aggravated sexual assault.

Impact on community and justice

The proposed changes to New Jersey’s jury exclusion laws go beyond increasing diversity. The new policy can help address major racial disparities in the justice system and emphasize the importance of civic participation. This bill seeks to improve the credibility and integrity of the judicial process. It can help ensure that juries are more fair and that all voices can participate in the system.

This legislative effort seeks to reform the laws and restore trust in a system that serves the people of New Jersey. If successful, Assembly Bill 834 could be an important step toward correcting long-standing injustices and making the judicial system more inclusive and fair for all.