Legal Aid Society


Advocates Rally in Support of Jury of Our Peers Act

Attorneys, advocates, impacted New Yorkers, elected officials, and others today called on Governor Kathy Hochul and the NY State Legislature to pass the Jury of Our Peers Act, legislation that would end the lifetime ban on jury service for people with felony convictions.

New York law permanently disqualifies people with felony convictions from serving on a jury, no matter the offense, how long ago the conviction took place, or what they have since done to rehabilitate their lives. The Jury of Our Peers Act, sponsored by NY State Senator Cordell Cleare and Assemblymember Jefrrion Aubry, would put an end to that ban and allow more New Yorkers to meaningfully participate in the fundamental civic function of our democracy that is serving on a jury.

“Prohibiting a portion of our community members — the majority of whom are people of color — from serving on a jury is a grave disservice to our democracy,” said Phil Desgranges, Attorney-in-Charge of Criminal Law Reform at The Legal Aid Society.

“Lifetime jury bans for individuals with a felony conviction have created stark racial disparities in juries across the State that have eroded public confidence in the quality and fairness of our jury system,” he continued. “People with felony convictions should not be further stigmatized in our society when they are just as capable of serving as jurors as any other citizen. Our leaders in Albany must put an end to this unnecessary ban by passing the Jury of Our Peers Act before the end of this legislative session.”