An appellate court in California today issued a decision that, in effect, denies everyone convicted of a felony sex offense who is currently required to register from serving on a jury. According to that court, serving as a juror “is not a fundamental right” and the exclusion of those registrants from juries “serves the legitimate state goal of ensuring impartial jury verdicts.”
Today’s decision by the First Appellate District Court of Appeal is the court’s response to an appeal filed in November 2021. In that appeal, plaintiffs asked this court to review a decision by the trial court granting a demurrer requested by the government.
“The court’s decision today is not consistent with the state constitution’s provision of equal protection for all citizens,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Therefore, review of this decision will be requested by the California Supreme Court.”
The court acknowledged in today’s decision that there was no reason stated for excluding registrants in the legislative history of Senate Bill 310, which allows most felons to serve on a jury. Despite this acknowledgment, the court concluded that the Legislature could have determined “that a person who has been convicted of a felony sex offense and is currently required to register as a sex offender might harbor a continuing resentment and bias against the system that has imposed the ongoing registration requirement.”
In addition, the court stated that his determination “provides a constitutionally permissible plausible reason for excluding current sex offenders registrants from jury service to promote the legitimate state goal of assuring impartial juries.” Further, the court stated that registrants convicted of a felony sex offense “are more likely to harbor bias than person convicted of felonies generally on account of their ongoing supervision and legal obligations.”
Download the decision: