AB 3070 is Now Law: Learn What this Law Will Do to Change the Way Juries Are Selected in California

AB 3070 is Now Law: Learn What this Law Will Do to Change the Way Juries Are Selected in California

As of January 1st, 2022, AB 3070 is law. It makes jury selection more transparent by requiring an attorney who uses peremptory strikes to demonstrate that his or her behavior is unconnected to the juror’s membership in a protected group or class. January 1, 2022, AB 3070 applies to criminal trials, while civil trials will commence January 1, 2026.

Technically it has been illegal since 1986 to dismiss a juror based on race – but that’s not always the way it works

In Batson v. Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that the state may not utilize peremptory challenges to automatically exclude potential jury members based on race. “The Equal Protection Clause protects the defendant that members of his race will not be excluded from the jury venire on the basis of race or on the mistaken belief that members of his race as a group are not fit to serve as jurors,” the Court wrote.

Recent data reveals that jurors of color (or other protected class members) are still disproportionately rejected from juries, no matter how solid and forward-thinking Batson’s premise and goal were. This data has led many attorneys, academics, and policymakers to wonder whether Batson’s criteria and methods are capable of effectively eradicating racial bias and discrimination in jury selection on their own. As a result, the goal of AB 3070 is to build on federal precedent in jury selection in both criminal and civil trials.

The attorney challenging a jury must provide a “neutral reason” under Batson and its progeny, and the trial court must evaluate the rationale to determine if the opposing attorney has established willful discrimination.

What constitutes a valid “neutral” justification?

To answer this question, AB 3070 declares the following reasons for exclusion to be presumptively unlawful, based on how frequently they have been given in favor of challenging jurors of color. As previously indicated, the presumption of invalidity may only be overturned by clear and persuasive evidence under the new statute. These are the presumptively invalid reasons:

  • Having an unfavorable encounter with law enforcement or the criminal justice system and expressing distrust in them
  • Having the conviction that law enforcement agents use racial profiling or that criminal laws have been applied in a biased manner
  • Having a close relationship with someone who has been arrested, detained, or convicted of a crime
  • The neighborhood of a potential juror
  • Having a kid without being married
  • Getting government assistance
  • Not being a native English speaker
  • The capacity to communicate in a second language
  • Personal appearance such as dress, outfit, or personal appearance.

AB 3070 goes even farther, replacing the “intentionality” criterion in California’s reading of Batson with an objective test in an effort to counteract implicit bias or “unconscious racism.” AB 3070 instructs judges to uphold objections to any challenge “if the court determines there is a substantial likelihood that an objectively reasonable person would view race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or religious affiliation, or perceived membership in any of those groups, as a factor.”

Ideally, AB 3070 will result in fairer juries. If you have been charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who can fight the charges you are facing. Contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 to speak with an attorney who has the case results to backup the claims he makes about being the best in the area.

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