Since its introduction in January 2022, California’s Assembly Bill 3070, a measure intended to eliminate racial prejudice in jury selection, has stirred controversy, with criminal defense attorneys and victims of crime voicing serious concerns.
The bill’s implications have drawn attention, particularly because of its rule prohibiting lawyers from removing jurors, which is said to result in bias in favor of defendants and against police enforcement. Although the law was created with good intentions, according to attorney Nicole Castronovo, it might not be producing the expected outcomes. In fact, it appears that the law is making it more difficult to obtain convictions, which could increase the state’s crime rates.
An important case involving Meagan McCarthy, a former deputy for the San Bernardino County Sheriff, has highlighted the practical effects of AB 3070. A direct result of AB 3070, the attacker in McCarthy’s case was exonerated of major charges despite abundant video evidence. This outcome was ascribed to the inability to exclude jurors who had expressed bias against the police.
The statute has additional restrictions that make it even more confusing by prohibiting the removal of jurors for obvious inattention or illogical responses. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys and several organizations dedicated to public safety have opposed the bill because of concern for unfair trial results, increased hung juries, and a justice system that fails its victims.