Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/07/2004 04:20 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        HB 353-JURY DUTY EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN TEACHERS                                                                     
MS. PAT  JACKSON, Staff to  Representative Mary  Kapsner, sponsor                                                               
of HB 353,  testified that this bill was introduced  on behalf of                                                               
Bethel's  school   district,  but   of  course  it   would  apply                                                               
statewide.  She explained that Bethel  has a large number of jury                                                               
trials in proportion to its population  base.  As a hub, it pulls                                                               
jurors from 11 villages in the  50-mile radius as well.  This has                                                               
been problematic  for the school  district because  when teachers                                                               
are out of  the classroom, the district has  difficulty finding a                                                               
certified substitute  and the focus  of the No Child  Left Behind                                                               
Act is that  highly qualified teachers help students  to meet the                                                               
CHAIR DYSON  noted that this  [legislation] pertains  only during                                                               
the  school term  and only  to schools  designated as  failing to                                                               
make adequate yearly progress.                                                                                                  
MR. DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative  Attorney, Alaska Court System,                                                               
testified  that  as  with  most  bills,  the  department  doesn't                                                               
support  or oppose  the bill;  however, his  observation is  that                                                               
although  these  exemptions  are  important, when  one  class  of                                                               
potential jurors is exempted, this  increases the burden on those                                                               
who are  left in  the pool.   Bethel has  the highest  jury trial                                                               
rate in  Alaska; it is  third in total numbers,  behind Anchorage                                                               
and Fairbanks.   That's a reason  for the bill, and  a reason why                                                               
those remaining in the pool will  have a higher jury duty burden,                                                               
he said.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR WILKEN asked if a person  could respond to a jury call by                                                               
asking to  be "excused to time  certain" so that a  teacher could                                                               
ask to be excused until May 15.                                                                                                 
MR.  WOOLIVER replied  yes,  that  one may  ask  to be  deferred.                                                               
However, in rural  areas, a lot of teachers are  not there in the                                                               
summer, which is why the deferral has not worked effectively.                                                                   
SENATOR DAVIS pointed out that  a limited number of deferrals can                                                               
be requested before one has to serve.                                                                                           
MR. WOOLIVER  responded that if one  was called for jury  duty in                                                               
December, duty could  be deferred until summertime,  but it could                                                               
not then be deferred again.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  commented that  in Anchorage,  notice of                                                               
jury duty  must be  given five  days in advance  and duty  is for                                                               
five  days.   She  asked  if it  is  handled  similarly in  other                                                               
Alaskan communities.                                                                                                            
MR. WOOLIVER  said no, the  five days applies only  in Anchorage.                                                               
Bethel's timeframe  had been  three months,  which is  similar to                                                               
most communities  of that size.   Effective January 1,   Bethel's                                                               
jury duty time period was reduced to one month.                                                                                 
SENATOR  GUESS moved  to report  CSHB 353(JUD)  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.                                                                       
CHAIR DYSON  asked if there was  any objection.  Seeing  none, it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 

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