"Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship," Brown said in an announcement Monday accompanying his veto of AB1401. "This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don't think that's right."
The bill by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, was intended to expand the pool of prospective jurors. Wieckowski said in a statement that lawful immigrants are part of the fabric of communities and should be included in such civic obligations.
"They benefit from the protections of our laws, so it is fair and just that they be asked to share in the obligation to do jury duty, just as they serve in our courts, schools, police departments and armed forces," Wieckowski said.
The bill passed the Legislature on a largely party-line vote, with Democrats supporting the idea. Republicans said the lack of available jurors in California courts is due to a shortage of funding, not due to an insufficient pool of jurors.
An estimated 10 million Californians are summoned for jury duty each year and about 4 million are eligible and available to serve, according to the Judicial Council, which administers the state's court system. About 3.2 million complete the service, meaning they waited in a courthouse assembly room or were placed on call.
In 2010-2011, the most recent year available, only about 165,000 people were sworn in as jurors.