The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 24, 2014

Ala. bill would let seniors opt out of jury duty

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state lawmaker has proposed legislation to allow people older than 70 to withdraw from jury pools.

A bill proposed by Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, has been discussed in the House Judiciary Committee. Scott says many seniors have trouble making it to court but some lawmakers say the legislation could pose problems in smaller counties or in certain cases.

"I've tried a number of jury trials, and the best jurors you'll ever get on a jury pool are your seniors," said Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia. "They're more attentive, they're more involved in the case. They bring that institutional knowledge to almost every case. I would hate if we ever lost that group of peers."

The bill would allow seniors to reinstate themselves to the pool if they wished.

Montgomery County Circuit Court administrator Rob Sachar says he gets many calls from nursing homes and care providers concerned with legal ramifications if they don't make it to jury duty.

"They call in and they're so worried and upset," Sachar said. "I hate to put that stress on them. We upset them for no reason at all."

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