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Jury duty after age 70 debated on the Kentucky Senate floor

Harlan GOP Senator Johnny Turner Explains SB 153 03-08-24
Stu Johnson
Harlan GOP Senator Johnny Turner Explains SB 153 03-08-24

Legislation to allow Kentuckians 70 years or older to permanently opt out of jury duty created some floor debate in the Kentucky Senate Friday. Under a relatively new law, those individuals can make a request, but it must be done with each jury duty notice. Hardin GOP Senator Johnny Turner is the bill sponsor.

“Don’t waste taxpayer dollars on filling out forms..making me filling out a form that I get in the mail and I may be out of the country. Old people like to take vacations every now and then. But, the sheriff might be waiting on you for not showing up to jury service when you get back from Florida on a vacation or something,” said Turner.

Turner and other supporters stressed the bill provides an option and is not a requirement. But opponents like Grayson Democratic Senator Robin Webb said judges and prosecutors in her area expressed concern. She said the worry is that a large number of citizens aged 70-plus will opt out and they often make very good jurors.

“And I think most of them will want to serve because they realize the importance of the jury process and setting us apart and what the constitution has done for them to give them the right to travel and to give them the right to do other things,” said Webb.

Lawrenceburg GOP Senator Adrienne Southworth said losing these jurors could impact getting a jury of peers. GOP Western Kentucky Senator Danny Carroll said he would have been more comfortable to allow a judge to make decisions on permanent removal from a jury pool. But, Hazard GOP Senator Brandon Smith said there are many grandparents raising grandchildren with a full schedule already. The bill easily passed the Senate.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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