A bill that would increase jury pay through more driving and public transportation reimbursements was signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Assembly Bill 1981, authored by Assemblyman Alex Lee (D-San Jose), would change the 34-cent-per-mile reimbursement for jurors who enter a courthouse from a street, both entering and leaving the courthouse. of court for the day. Those who use public transport to get to court will now also be reimbursed for their journey. Courts will work with public transit operators to provide this service at no cost or to determine an alternative method of reimbursement up to a daily maximum of $12, as long as the court is within a reasonable distance of the nearest stop. of public transit.
Additionally, AB 1981 would require the Judiciary Council to sponsor a pilot program for 2 fiscal years to study whether increases in juror compensation and mileage reimbursement rates increase juror diversity and participation.
Assemblyman Lee wrote the bill because the low daily juror pay of $15 a day starting on the second day was causing financial hardship for many would-be jurors, with many low-income Californians turning away from jury duty. jury for this reason.
“The right to a jury trial applies to both criminal and civil cases, but jury trials cannot be held if people are unable to perform their civic duties,” Assemblyman Lee said in a statement. “By expanding reimbursement options for taking transit and increasing jury pay, we can have juries that are more reflective of our communities leading to better outcomes and better experiences for jurors.”
While some lawmakers abstained from voting at first because of concerns about the affordability of higher jury costs for the courts, the bill quickly gained bipartisan support from both chambers. The Assembly passed the bill 75-0 in May, with the Senate following with a unanimous 40-0 vote last month. While Governor Newsom did not issue a statement Thursday signing the bill because the Governor signed dozens of other bills into law, his support for the bill was also noted.
“A lot of people have been complaining about this for quite some time,” Los Angeles attorney Oscar Carlyle explained to the Globe on Friday. “After a case is over, the jurors are allowed to talk to us, and sometimes I hear from the jurors afterward, and that’s always the biggest complaint. Many people want to be on jury duty, but their job doesn’t compensate them for a lost week or so. Over a hundred a day comes down to $15 a day, and parking or taking the subway cuts that down. In LA County it’s hard to have a diverse jury because the pool can be held back by adversity.”
“This bill will correct some of that. I mean, federal jury pay is $50 a day. California, it’s $15 a day after the first day. Yes. And it’s not just people with lower incomes. Even people with higher incomes complain about it. So it’s no surprise that this was signed into law.”
The new jury transit pay is expected to go into effect soon after the bill is signed into law.