Jury duty exemption for older Utahns clears House committee

(KCPW News) A bill that would give older Utahns the ability to opt out of jury duty cleared a legislative committee on Tuesday.

The text of Heber Republic Rep. Tim Quinn’s bill reads “a court shall excuse an individual from jury service if the individual is 72 years old or older and the individual requests to be excused from service.”

Quinn told members of the House Judiciary Committee that he believed people of an advanced age should be given a pass on jury service, if they wanted it.

“For someone in their advanced age who may have difficulty driving to the courthouse…who may have medical reasons…why would we make them jump through hoops if they say they don’t want to be there,” Quinn asked.

During public comments Mark Moffat, a trial lawyer, testified that he was opposed to providing an exemption from an important civic duty.

“If you allow somebody to say ‘I don’t want to serve as a juror because I’m 72,’ then you’re eliminating from a potential jury pool individuals who may bring valued experience to the jury deliberative process simply because they don’t want to serve,” he said.

“And that offends me,” Moffat added.

Rep. Quinn reiterated that his bill wouldn’t prevent anyone from serving if they wanted to. He also said he believed some people had reached a stage where they simply deserved a break.

“I just heard on the radio the other day life expectancy for a man is 78 years old.” Quinn said. “And we can’t give them the last six years to opt out of this?”

Quinn’s measure cleared the committee on a 6-4 vote. Tuesday marked the 8th day of Utah’s 45-day legislative session.

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