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Assemblymember Ward Reintroduces Bill to Improve Diversity in Grand Juries

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Grand juries are essential to holding local governments accountable throughout California’s 58 counties. However, the group of ordinary citizens that comprise them often lack racial and ethnic minorities to reflect a broad range of experience, expertise and perspectives. Today, Assemblymember Chris Ward has introduced AB 78 to improve diversity within grand juries by increasing the per diem compensation and amending statutory requirements to allow the jury selection process to be able to attract a broader group of individuals. 

“The people that serve on grand juries are largely volunteers and not always reflective of the communities they are representing,” said Assemblymember Ward (D-San Diego). “Ensuring that jurors are fairly compensated for their time while increasing transparency around the jury selection process will attract a more diverse pool of people to serve.”

Grand juries are administered through the California Superior Court and are treated as independent bodies. While current state statute requires jury commissioners to note the geographic makeup of a jury pool, there are no further requirements that would help judges create a more diverse grand jury based on race, gender age, or any other demographic characteristics. 

Assemblymember Ward previously introduced AB 1972 to improve diversity within grand juries, but the bill did not advance through the Legislature. Assemblymember Ward introduced AB 78 to pick up where his previous bill left off and address this important issue.