Atlanta, GA — On the last day of the 2011 legislative session, Georgia’s lawmakers banded together to pass the first major jury-reform legislation since the 1960s. Designed to serve Georgia’s increasingly diverse population, the Jury Reform Act of 2011 passed both chambers of the General Assembly and will proceed to the governor for his signature. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Brunswick) and Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) authorizes a new and far more comprehensive way to compile lists of prospective jurors for use by counties in selecting juries.
“This jury-reform legislation is historic and far-reaching and will affect every community in Georgia,” said Chief Justice Carol Hunstein of the Supreme Court of Georgia. “It will substantially improve how counties compile jury pools and thereby further justice for all citizens of our state.”
Specifically, the legislation takes advantage of technological advances to improve the quality of data about people eligible to serve as jurors. In addition to voter registration lists, which do not capture all segments of our society, counties will also have access to drivers records and vital statistics, including birth and death records. The legislation is the result of seven years work by the Supreme Court Jury Composition Committee, chaired by Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson.
“Jury service is one way all of us can give back and serve our communities,” said Ms. Marla S. Moore, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. “This legislation not only will help guarantee a person’s constitutional right to a jury of his or her peers, but it will also help spread the opportunity for jury service to many more citizens.”