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New California Law Aims To Diversify Juries, Adds Tax Filers To Pool Of Potential Jurors

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – California is expanding the pool of prospective jurors beyond those with driver's licenses and the voter rolls, under new legislation signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The governor this week signed Senate Bill 592 by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), which has been dubbed the "Fair Juries Act." Under SB592, jury commissioners across California would be required to include anyone who files state taxes along with DMV records and lists of registered voters.

"Today, we are one step closer to having a criminal justice system that is equitable and just for all Californians," Wiener said in a statement. "By moving beyond DMV and voter rolls, and including all taxpayers, our jury pools will be much more diverse. We're in a moment where we finally have momentum to excise structural racism from our criminal justice system."

According to Wiener's office, using only DMV and voter lists to find potential jurors makes juries disproportionately whiter and wealthier than the community as a whole.

The legislation, which was backed by the California Public Defenders Association, comes as the criminal justice system is being reexamined following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with national protests against police brutality and racism.

Under the new law, which goes into effect next year, the Franchise Tax Board would be required to furnish a list of state tax filers to all jury commissioners by November 2021. Lists would be updated annually.

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