Hutchinson sponsors legislation guaranteeing LGBTQ juror rights

Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights, was a chief sponsor of legislation that will prohibit discrimination of persons from the LGBTQ community from serving as jurors.
 
The legislation was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The new law specifically exempts discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. The law brings Illinois in line with court decisions in other parts of the United States.
 
“Ensuring jury pools represent the diversity of Illinois is a vital part of ensuring our criminal justice system is fair,” Hutchinson said. “Allowing jurors to be excluded simply because of who they love or who they are flies in the face of the kind of criminal justice reforms we are all working toward.”
 
In 2014, the 9th United States Circuit ruled that sexual orientation cannot be used as the sole basis for exclusion of a juror, protecting lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from being excluded on jury panels. Since Illinois sits in the 7th United States Circuit, however, that ruling didn’t apply to the state.
 
In 2018, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution urging state government to include LGBTQ individuals in jury service non-discrimination protection.
 
“Serving on a jury is a fundamental obligation of American democracy. Now, like other pro-equality states, Illinois will protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jury service,” said Michael Ziri, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for LGBTQ people. 
 
“This new law will bring our judicial system nearer to eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal protection under the law. We thank Sen. Hutchinson for her leadership on this measure and her dedication to ensuring the equal treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ Illinoisans,” he said.
 

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