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Jury Duty: ¿Se Habla Español?

Wikimedia Commons/user: kmaschke

Jury duty could soon be open to people who are not fluent in the English language. The Illinois Senate today approved a pilot program to provide translators for jurors.

Illinois law currently says jurors must be able to "understand the English language." This proposal would allow jurors who speak other languages to have interpreters.

It's the idea of Dan Locallo, a retired Cook County judge.

"Just because somebody is not comfortable with the English language, they have the same stake in their community," Locallo says, pointing to the growing number of Illinoisans who speak mainly Spanish or Polish.

"We always say that an individual should be tried by his or her peers," Locallo says. "I think we're adding to that mix of individuals."

The legislation would create a test run of non-English-predominant jurors in five Chicago-area counties: Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, and Will.

It passed the Senate 57-0 and now goes before the House.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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