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California governor vetoes bill permitting non-citizens to serve on juries

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] vetoed [text] a bill [AB 1401] on Monday that would have permitted lawful permanent immigrants to serve on juries. The bill's supporters compared [Reuters report] disqualifying permanent residents to outdated laws that preventing women and minorities from serving on juries, while the opposition felt the measure could prevent a defendants from having cases decided by a jury of their peers. The veto stated, "[j]ury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship. This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don't think that's right." If passed, California would have become the first state to permit lawful permanent immigrants to be jurors.

This veto is countered to other bills brought and signed by the California legislature this year as part of a rapid expansion of immigration rights [JURIST backgrounder]. On Saturday Brown signed into law [JURIST report] a collection of legislation centered on immigration. Earlier last week Brown signed a bill allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses [JURIST report] in California. In July 2012 the California Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] to prevent local police officers from turning over a detained individual to federal immigration authorities unless the detainee had been convicted of a serious or violent felony. However, Brown vetoed the bill the following September, stating that the bill as written omitted too many serious crimes, such as offenses involving child abuse, drug trafficking and gang involvement. In October 2011 Brown signed into law [JURIST report] the California Dream Act, which expanded financial aid to undocumented immigrant students in the state. In 2010 the California Supreme Court ruled that undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive [JURIST report] in-state tuition benefits at California's public colleges and universities. Scholarship has highlighted the important role of discretion [JURIST op-ed] in the application and enforcement of immigration laws.

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