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A01432 Summary:

COSPNSRCruz, Darling, Epstein, Jackson, Seawright, Simon, Weprin, Zinerman, Kelles, Walker, Mamdani, Burgos, Gallagher, Taylor, Hevesi, Raga, Reyes, Cook, Gibbs, Septimo, Forrest, Rosenthal L, Glick, Wallace, Simone, Cunningham, Lucas, Meeks, Shrestha, Anderson, Davila, Bichotte Hermelyn, De Los Santos, Shimsky, Solages, Burdick, Gonzalez-Rojas, Rivera, Levenberg, Jean-Pierre, Zaccaro, Lee, Bronson, Clark, Carroll, Benedetto, O'Donnell, Hyndman, Stirpe, Dinowitz, Dickens, Bores, Tapia, Mitaynes, Otis, Chandler-Waterman
Amd §510, Judy L
Removes the lifetime ban on jury duty for convicted felons; provides that if convicted of a felony, such person has completed all sentencing requirements to such conviction, including any required term of imprisonment, probation, or community supervision.
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A01432 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the judiciary law, in relation to removing the lifetime ban on jury duty for convicted felons   PURPOSE: To remove the lifetime ban on jury duty for people convicted of felonies who have completed all sentencing requirements.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends the Judiciary Law to remove the lifetime ban on jury duty for people convicted of felonies who have completed all sentencing requirements.   JUSTIFICATION: The Bill is called Jury Of Our Peers, or JOOP. Jury service is a corner- stone of our democratic system. The jury may be a different institution from the ballot box, but their democratic char- acter and their quintes- sential activity of voting is the same. Founding era historian Alexis de Tocqueville recognized that in America, jury service was essential to citizenship in a self-governing free society as "both the most effective way of establishing the people's rule and the most efficient way of teaching them how to rule." In New York, the importance of the jury system as an institution of democratic control of the administration of justice pre-dates both the federal and state constitutions. In the cele- brated 1735 case of John Peter Zenger, a New York jury thwarted the attempt of the colonial government to prosecute a publisher for sedi- tious libel for printing articles critical of the governor. Gouverneur Morris, a New Yorker who was the "Scrivener of the Constitution," described Zenger's case as "the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which subsequently revolutionized Amer- ica." Prior to the adoption of the United States Constitution, New York's 1787 Bill of Rights protected the right to trial by a jury of one's peers. People with felony convictions are as capable of serving as jurors as any other group of citizens. Current law permanently excluding them jury service relies upon unsupported stereotypes about the moral character and fitness of people convicted of felonies. These stereotypes are doubly inappropriate in Manhattan, given its history of racialized policing and prosecution. New York's voir dire process already provides for individualized screening of prospective jurors in civil trials, in criminal trials, and on grand juries. Moreover, New York law does not categorically bar from jury service people whose convictions or conduct more directly implicates an individual's fitness for jury service. For example, a person can still serve on a jury in New York if they have been convicted of tampering with a juror in the first degree, a misde- meanor conviction that includes a finding of "communicating with a juror" with "intent to influence the outcome of an action or proceed- ing." For further examples, people found liable for civil fraud, disbarred lawyers, and officials who have lied to the public and even courts remain eligible for jury service as long as they have not been criminal prosecuted for their dishonesty and convicted of a felony. These categories of people are not banned from jury service; instead, New York law relies on voir dire to determine whether these people should serve on a jury. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia either never exclude people with felony convictions from jury service or provide for automat- ic restoration of eligibility after a set time. Maine does not ever bar otherwise-eligible citizens from jury service because of a criminal conviction. Indiana and North Dakota exclude incarcerated citizens, but otherwise permit jury service regardless of conviction record. Alaska, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin exclude citizens with felony convictions only during the term of sentence. Illi- nois, Idaho, and Iowa permit citizens with felony convictions to serve after they complete their sentence but permit for-cause challenges based on the fact of conviction. Finally, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and the District of Columbia each exclude citizens with felony convictions for the duration of their sentences and then only for a finite time period after the completion of sentence. Ending the permanent ban on.jury service by people with conviction histories will serve the interests of justice by increasing the size and diversity of the jury pool, as well as the quality of deliberations. Given the long history of racially-disparate criminal law enforcement, as the New York State Bar Association's Special Committee Consequences of Criminal Proceedings recognized about criminal record-based jury disqualification in 2006, "it is impossible to argue that these restrictions do not impact the racial composition of the jury pool." Over three decades ago, the New York State Judicial Commission on Minor- ities (now, the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission) found as part of comprehensive three-and-half year study that "minorities are signif- icantly underrepresented on many juries in the court system," and there "is reason to believe that minority underrepresentation affects jury outcomes in ways that disadvantage minority litigants." The systematic underrepresentation of New Yorkers of color in jury pools reduces public confidence in jury verdicts and the legal system generally. Extensive academic research supports the conclusion that more diverse juries enhance the quality of deliberations and confidence in the legal system. Moreover, the provision of the Judiciary Law that this bill repeals is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging that the categorical exclusion of people convicted of felonies from jury service is unconsti- tutional as applied in New York County. The pending lawsuit, Justin v. Tingling states that decades of racially-biased policing and prosecuto- rial practices results in the exclusion from jury service more than one out of every of four otherwise jury-eligible Black residents of New York County and the underrepresentation of Black people, and particularly Black men, from the New York County jury pool to cite but one example.   LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2019-20: S.221A/A4760-A / Passed Senate Judiciary Committee, Passed Senate Floor   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None Noted.   LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None Noted.   EFFECTIVE DATE: 180 Days.
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