Saturday Shorts: More jury diversity; end scalping ban

The Detroit News

Rep. Brian Banks, D-Harper Woods, has introduced legislation that would expand the sources from which court officials could obtain the names of potential jurors.

The idea is to enlarge the jury pools and make them more representative of the community.

Currently, jurors are picked from those who have a driver's license or carry a state identification card. However, many citizens don't have these, particularly those in urban areas where residents use public transportation. So these residents are not called for jury duty.

In addition to these groups, the two-bill package would add people who have registered to vote and those who have filed state income tax returns to the potential pool list. Adoption of this legislation would be particularly helpful to Wayne County because many Detroit residents do not own automobiles.

It's important jury pools represent the racial, religious and gender makeup of the community. Creating more diverse pools of potential jurors would heighten the democratic principle of putting defendants on trial before a jury of their peers.

As Banks notes, "Jury duty is a civic duty but it's truly government in the hands of the people."

Other states have expanded their jury pool lists. So should Michigan.

Free ticket scalpers

New House legislation is reviving an effort to do away with Michigan's ticket scalping restrictions. Both chambers should approve it.

The bill would eliminate a ban on the resale of tickets for more than their face value, part of a law that was passed in 1931. Proponents say the change is only fair to people who discover they cannot attend an entertainment or sporting event. They also argue that when people buy event tickets, it's their property and they should be able to do what they want with it.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, says the law currently is unfair to consumers. He says entertainment venues and artists can resell tickets but private citizens can't.

"I want to make it legal for everybody," Kelly says.

Last year a similar bill made it through the House but died in the Senate. This year it should go all the way. It's time to repeal the archaic law and let the market place set the price.

Let the fireworks fizzle

The Grosse Pointe Woods City Council has decided to cancel its annual Fourth of July fireworks display, at least for this summer, after security concerns arose from last year's show.

City Manager Al Fincham said officials had considered other options, such as moving the fireworks to another area but said the display would have had adverse effects on the selected locations.

Instead, Fincham said the city will explore partnering with the Edsel Ford estate for a future display. This year, he says the city will look at extending other activities, such as making the annual picnic an all-day event.

At least 13 fights were reported last year among a crowd of unruly youths, even though Grosse Pointe Woods had 35 police officers and 60 other city employees on-site for crowd control.

Local governments probably don't need to be in the fireworks business, even if they can afford it. The city is making a prudent decision and erring on the side of safety.