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Grand juries

A California assemblymember wants to increase grand jury pay and diversity.

Assm. Chris Ward (D-San Diego) introduced a bill Feb. 10 that would increase grand jury pay from $15 a day to eight hours of the hourly prevailing wages of the county. It would also require courts to list the jury members’ gender, age, race or ethnicity, and judicial district, supervisorial district, or residential ward.

Under the proposed change, a superior court can add up to 10 jurors who served on the previous grand jury or are among the list of qualified jurors if it balances the grand jury’s diversity to match the county’s diversity.

“Currently, the role of a grand juror is largely voluntary with very little compensation being given daily for their civic service,” Ward said, according to a press release. “This leads to disproportionate representation within courtrooms. AB 1972 will help increase transparency around the process of jury selection and ensure jurors are fairly compensated for their time.”

Brown Act

A California Senator wants to amend the Brown Act to outline a clear process to remove people who are intentionally disrupting the meeting.

SB 1100, introduced by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-Santa Clara) Feb. 16, states that a presiding member of the legislative body or a law enforcement officer can warn a group disrupting the proceedings, before giving them the clear authority to remove them. It does not allow the member or the officer to remove the individual if the individual is trying to fight someone, uses offensive words or otherwise disturbs the peace as outlined in Penal Code section 415.

The individual could only be removed under the section for intentionally engaging in behavior “that substantially impairs or renders infeasible the orderly conduct of the meeting in accordance with law.”

Current law allows individuals to be removed from legislative meetings. Brown Act section 54957.9, which Cortese’s law would change, allows a legislative body to clear the meeting room if the meeting room is interrupted by a group so as to render the orderly conduct of such meeting unfeasible.

During a Victorville City council meeting, Mayor Debra Jones ejected a man and Councilwoman Blanca Gomez for allegedly disturbing the meeting in violation of Penal Code section 403. They have since been charged for the code violation, although Gomez has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

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