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Monday, March 21, 2011 - 1:00am

Bill Broadens Georgia’s Jury Pool

Updated: 3 years ago.
The pool of prospective jurors in Georgia would grow under a plan to use driver’s license rolls to fill juries. Right now, jurors are selected from county voter registration lists. The measure, sponsored by Brunswick Rep. Alex Atwood, would add anyone with a drivers’ license or state ID card. (Photo Courtesy of Lee Bennett via Flickr.)

The pool of prospective jurors in Georgia would grow under a plan to use driver’s license rolls to fill juries.

The proposal (HB 415/SB 191) is making its way through the General Assembly and passed the House last week.

Right now, jurors are selected from county voter registration lists. The measure, sponsored by Brunswick Rep. Alex Atwood, would add anyone with a drivers’ license or state ID card.

Atwood said the broader list would make it harder for people to avoid jury duty.

“One of our representatives had been speaking with the League of Women Voters and they were saying that some people actually don’t vote because they don’t want to serve on juries,” Atwood said. “I have heard that argument from several sources, so this will capture those folks, too.”

Atwood said broadening the pool would make juries more reflective of their communities.

“I deeply, deeply believe in our constitutional system of government, and the seminal basis of that is a jury of one’s peers,” said Atwood, himself an attorney. “It protects our freedom and folks have got to believe in it. If they cease to believe in that, it doesn’t bode well for our country.”

Atwood’s bill gives the state responsibility for compiling a master list of jurors from the driver’s license and voter registration rolls and giving that to counties. Currently, each county compiles its own list.