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January 19, 2011

Bill would excuse Va. responders from jury duty

By Meredith Rigsby
The Virginian-Pilot

RICHMOND, Va. — Because they perform such a vital public service, Virginia law exempts police officers from jury duty.

But what about firefighters?

They'd be exempt too under a bill proposed by Del. James E. Edmunds II, R-South Boston, and endorsed last week by a House subcommittee.

HB1527 also would apply to emergency medical technicians, rescue squad members and arson investigators.

Edmunds said the bill is "a small token of appreciation for those who serve."

Firefighters and other emergency personnel often are stretched thin; in a small fire department, only a handful may be licensed to drive a fire truck, he said.

Requiring them to serve on juries puts more stress on first responders and can undermine public safety, he said.

The issue was brought to Edmunds' attention by the Virginia State Firefighters Association.

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted 11-0 in favor of HB1527. The measure now goes to the full committee for consideration this week.

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