Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/28/1994 09:00 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  CSSB 353(JUD) - PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE OF JURORS                               
  Number 180                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened CSSB 353(JUD) for discussion.  He                      
  observed CSSB 353(JUD) in essence reduces the number of                      
  peremptory challenges from ten to six.  He believed the                      
  companion bill already had gone through Judiciary, and                       
  possibly Finance, because it is was in Rules now.                            
  REPRESENTATIVE ULMER inquired whether or not CSSB 353(JUD)                   
  was similar to how the law was previously in the state of                    
  Alaska.  She assumed at one point there had been an equal                    
  number and it was changed.  If so, why was it changed and                    
  why is it being changed back.                                                
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY answered ten is bigger than six.  From                        
  testimony he has heard, the amount of work required to                       
  select of jury can be reduced.  The amount of jurors called                  
  for a jury hearing can be a smaller number.  A cost savings                  
  method.  The legal history of the change, he said, went too                  
  far back for him to have knowledge of.                                       
  REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned if there had been a public                   
  policy reason or rationale for the decision that one side                    
  should have six and the other should have ten.  She said she                 
  would be happy to have Margot Knuth, who was observing,                      
  answer the question.                                                         
  Number 247                                                                   
  answered REPRESENTATIVE ULMER's question.  She stated CSSB
  353(JUD) is raising the number of peremptory challenges to                   
  ten that the state will have, as well as leaving the                         
  defendants number at ten.  She commented the Office of Pubic                 
  Advocacy and the Public Defender's office stated they would                  
  like to see the levels fair.  The change would not be a cost                 
  reducing measure as once believed, but it would level the                    
  playing for the state.  She did not know why the discrepancy                 
  had existed for so many years.  She mentioned when both the                  
  prosecutors and the defense bar now agree that ten each is                   
  the right number, the Governor's office was happy to comply.                 
  REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG asked why not six each to save money.                  
  MS. KNUTH answered six each would save money, but the                        
  defense bar was concerned it would not give them enough                      
  flexibility to pick the jury they want.  The initial House                   
  Bill version was a compromise version of eight preempts for                  
  each side, however, it was amended in the Senate to bring                    
  the number back up to ten.  She pointed out any version with                 
  an equal number is acceptable to the state.                                  
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY clarified there was no cost savings.                          
  MS. KNUTH responded correct, CSSB 353(JUD) is now an                         
  equalizing bill.                                                             
  Number 278                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if was a national standard.                        
  MS. KNUTH answered there is; however, she could not recall                   
  whether it was eight or ten.  She believed there was eight                   
  on each side at the general level.  They had patterned after                 
  this trend originally.                                                       
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY inquired the number of preempts in the                        
  companion bill currently in Rules.                                           
  MS. KNUTH answered HB 528, with only a Judiciary referral,                   
  reflects six each.  The Senate amended it to bring the state                 
  up to ten.                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG noted the final line in the analysis                   
  states allowing both six challenges "may" reduce the cost of                 
  criminal trials.                                                             
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY clarified the state did not care what the                     
  number was as long as there was a level playing field.                       
  MS. KNUTH replied correct.                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the pleasure of the committee.                          
  Number 317                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG moved to pass CSSB 353(JUD) with                       
  individual recommendations.                                                  
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the committee secretary to call the                     
                 G. DAVIS, SANDERS, OLBERG.                                    
  MOTION PASSED                                                                

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