Court says felons who've completed their sentences can serve on juries

Previously, lawyers could use a felony conviction to block potential juror

DES MOINES — The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday amended procedural rules that prevent lawyers from keeping people with felony convictions off a jury, if that person has completed their sentence.

The Iowa Rules of Civil and Criminal procedures previously allowed lawyers to challenge a potential juror, during the jury selection process, if that person had a felony conviction, regardless of when the conviction occurred and whether the sentence had been completed.

But Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order Aug. 5 restoring voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences.

Given that, Chief Justice Susan Christensen said the court’s view is that the restoration of citizenship rights includes the ability to serve on a jury.

Christensen said the court’s review of criminal procedure rules is nearing completion and amendments will address that point. But, as an immediate measure, she said her supervisory order will apply in both civil and criminal jury trials.

The amendments will permanently take effect, subject to review by the Legislative Council.

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