The Jury ACCESS Act was introduced last week by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), with bipartisan support. The legislation seeks to amend the United States Code to prohibit discrimination in the jury-selection process against LGBT citizens.
There are currently federal protections in place which prevent attorneys and/or judges from removing potential jurors on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status. There are no similar protections from removal based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, attorneys can, and have, removed jurors based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such discriminatory removals can, and do, impact the potential jurors and their right to serve on a jury, as well as impact the ability of both sides of the lawsuit to have a fair trial by a jury of their peers.
The Jury ACCESS Act, if passed, would amend federal law to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases for the striking of jurors. Equality in the judicial process is vital to the LGBT community, though it is not often at the forefront of the debate. The introduction of this legislation is a significant step for the LGBT community. During this political season, keep an eye on this important legislation and discuss it with your Senators.
For further information check out this article. Additionally, we commend the National LGBT Bar Association for their work on this legislation, you can read their update here.
Martin Law Office LLC is a proud member of the National LGBT Bar Association, as well as the Colorado GLBT Bar Association. Should you have any questions regarding this legislation or any other LGBT legal matter please feel free to contact us.