Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 87 into law, which will promote and protect the right of all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to serve on a jury.
“Trial by a jury of your peers is a core part of our legal system,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of the LGBT advocacy organization, Equality California, which sponsored the measure. “A jury can’t represent the necessary cross-section of the population when potential jurors are excluded based on gender identity or other characteristics. This law ensures that transgender people cannot be barred from jury service simply because of who they are.”
AB 87 updates current law prohibiting discriminatory peremptory challenges during the jury selection process by prohibiting such challenges if a prospective juror is assumed to have a bias because of his or her gender identity, gender expression, ethnic group identification, genetic information or disability. Under existing law, peremptory challenges are prohibited for most individuals, but not the aforementioned protected classes of individuals.
A peremptory challenge is the removal of a prospective juror from serving on the jury panel without providing a reason. During a trial, the prosecution and defense are allowed peremptory challenges.
AB 87 will align the state’s non-discrimination code with the jury code to ensure that transgender individuals and others are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as other Californians.
California has led the country in ensuring that transgender people are protected from discrimination and treated equally under California law. Recently enacted laws allow transgender people to amend their name and gender on birth certificates without a court order, participate in school activities and use school facilities in alignment with their gender identity, and have their death certificates reflect their gender identity.
AB 87, which was authored by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), goes into effect on Jan. 1.