Bill aims to increase participation in jury system

Legislation that would add people with state-issued personal identification cards to a pool of potential jurors passed the Senate today by a 35-0-vote.

“It will allow for a wider representation of our communities in our jury pool," said sponsor Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, who introduced the legislation, known as Senate Bill 132.

He said the idea of expanding the pool of potential jurors has been studied for years, but the time was right to act. That’s because another piece of legislation (Senate Bill 2) advancing through the General Assembly this session would provide a free state-issued ID card for individuals who are at least 18 and do not have a valid driver’s license. It currently costs $30 for that ID.

The administrative arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice compiles a county-by-county master list of prospective jurors for the entire state. Currently, it draws from people with driver’s licenses, tax rolls from individual returns and voter registration lists.

By law, a person summoned to jury service is required to be available for 30 court days. However, once a jury begins hearing a case, the jury will remain seated for the duration of that case. State law requires the summons to be issued at least 30 days before jurors are to report for service.

The list of potential jurors was last expanded by the General Assembly in 2002. SB 132 now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.