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Monday, Oct 07 2013 10:24 PM

One right noncitizens don't have coming

By The Bakersfield Californian

Just when it seemed as if Gov. Jerry Brown intended to give non-native residents, documented or otherwise, every advantage of citizenship short of citizenship itself, he stepped in Monday and applied the brakes.

Allowing legal immigrants to serve on juries was a step too far for Brown. And it is. In vetoing that legislation, Brown correctly declared that the responsibility of jury service should be reserved for U.S. citizens who have a more accurate sense of the laws, customs and mores of their nation than non-citizens -- even if they are longtime legal residents.

It's been quite a legislative session for those who support broader rights for immigrants. Brown signed bills allowing illegal immigrants to practice law, protected immigrants from labor discrimination, approved driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and banned local law enforcement from detaining immigrants for anything other than serious crimes.

But Brown, in agreeing with newspaper editorial boards across the state, declared that "jury service, like voting, is a quintessential prerogative and responsibility of citizenship."

Supporters of Assembly Bill 1401 said it would help courts that cannot easily fill their jury boxes. Maybe so, but the right to a fair trial, judged by peers, supersedes that.

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