A plan to mandate civil jury trials via Zoom in New Jersey courts is drawing criticism for the potential to exclude members of diverse communities from jury pools.

Virtual jury selection “hinders the empaneling of juries comprised of a fair cross-section of the community,” the Essex County Bar Association wrote Wednesday in a letter to Acting Administrative Director of the Court Glenn Grant. And disparities in access to broadband service and in familiarity with technology would mean the ability to serve on a jury would become “subject to a socioeconomic litmus test” if mandatory virtual civil trials go forward, the Essex group said in calling for such trials to proceed on an “opt-in” basis.

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