Kentucky lawmaker pushing for larger jury pool, higher pay for j - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky lawmaker pushing for larger jury pool, higher pay for jurors

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LOUISVILLE, Ky, (WDRB) - When Judge Olu Stevens dismissed juries because they didn't have enough diversity, it got national attention. 

"I think the issue he was raising is a very valid issue," said Senator Gerald Neal (D-Louisville), who's pre-filed two bills addressing the jury system in Kentucky. 

Some of the problems with representation are clear when you look at the numbers. 

"We're still not at the percentage that we really need to be," said Kentucky Appeals Court Judge Denise Clayton, chairwoman for the Chief Justice’s Commission on Racial Fairness for Jefferson County’s courts. 

She says African Americans should make up about 21 percent of a jury panel in Jefferson County. But earlier this month, it was more like 15 percent. 

One of Neal's proposals would widen the jury pool. Currently, names are pulled from driver's licenses, the department of revenue and voter registration. 
He'd like to add personal ID cards too. 

Neal says the move could lead to a jury pool that's more representative in terms of race, gender and socioeconomic status. 

 The other change deals with pay.

"Frankly, anyone who is not compensated by their employer is taking a hardship," Clayton said. 

Right now, jurors in Kentucky are getting paid $12.50 a day. Neal wants to increase it to $40.00.  

He says he'd go even higher if he thought the state of Kentucky could handle it. But regardless, he says it's time to give jurors a raise. 

"I think it's reasonable to discuss, raise this question and do something that reflects really the value of what they're giving up as a practical matter when they come to the jury pool," Neal said.

The bills will be considered during the 2017 Legislative Session.  

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