Judges uphold right of jurors 75 or older to skip duty - East Valley Tribune: News

Judges uphold right of jurors 75 or older to skip duty

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Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 6:40 am | Updated: 5:50 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Residents who are at least 75 may be old. And they may be experienced.

But the Arizona Court of Appeals said Tuesday that doesn’t mean they all think alike.

And that, the judges said, means no one’s right to a trial by a jury representing a cross-section of the community is harmed when those 75 and older are allowed to opt out.

In a unanimous decision, the judges upheld a two-yearold law that lets anyone who reaches the three-quarter century mark choose not to serve on a jury. That statute replaced prior laws that required those seeking a pass to explain why and to get an excuse.

The ruling is a defeat for Charles R. Stewart, who is awaiting trial in Phoenix Municipal Court on charges of driving while intoxicated. Stewart, who is 66, has sought to block his trial because the people who would be called to the courthouse to serve would not be truly representative.

Appellate Judge Patricia Norris, writing for the court, acknowledged that the U.S. constitutional right to a trial by jury forbids excluding any “distinctive group’’ in the community.

But she said Stewart never adequately explains how letting those 75 and older opt out of jury service violates the right to a trial by a fair cross-section of the community.

“Time on earth and life experience go hand-in-hand,” Norris wrote. “But although citizens 75 and older have more time on earth and more experiences they can draw upon during jury service, they do not necessarily share the same or similar experiences, views, histories, viewpoints, attitudes, values or interests.”

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