Bill would exempt firefighters from jury duty

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 state Delegate James E. Edmunds II, R-South Boston, and endorsed last week by a House subcommittee.

House Bill 1527 also would apply to emergency medical technicians, rescue squad members and arson investigators. Along with firefighters, they would be exempt from jury duty if they so request.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel often are stretched thin; in a fire department, only a handful may be licensed to drive a fire truck. Requiring them to serve on juries puts more stress on first responders and can undermine public safety, Edmunds said.

“A lot of departments only have one or two who have the license to drive a truck,” Edmunds said.

“You can imagine if they were on vacation and there’s no substitute, and you have to call somebody from a different department. It could potentially be a life-saving issue.”

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 HB 1527. The measure now goes to the full committee for consideration this week.

During the subcommittee’s review, one concern raised about the bill was whether some citizens might try to dodge jury duty by falsely claiming they volunteer at a local fire department.

Edmunds assured the panel that such claims could easily be disproved by simply calling the department.

He said the bill is a fitting recognition for public servants: “It’s a small token of appreciation for those who serve.”

To follow or comment on House Bill 1527, visit http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2011/hb1527.
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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


It’s going to be a cold weekend so if you’re headed out to the James River Parade of Lights or the Richmond Road Runners Club Toy Run 5K in Innsbrook, you’d better bundle up! If you’re looking for some indoor ways to celebrate the holidays, check out Three-Penny Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story for Christmas” or “To Drive the Cold Winter Away: An Irish Celebration of the Returning Light” at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Glen Allen. Also this weekend – the Henrico Theatre will show the holiday classic “Home Alone." For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Henrico Theatre Company will present “The 1940s Radio Hour” Dec. 2-18 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. A different time is evoked in this holiday show, a live broadcast of The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade from the Hotel Astor’s Algonquin Room on December 21, 1942. The spirit of this bygone era mixed with your favorite holiday tunes including “Strike Up the Band,” Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy,” “That Old Black Magic” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” All performances are at 8 p.m. except for Sunday matinees which are at 2:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. For details, call 501-5859 or visit http://www.henrico.us/rec. Full text

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