Jur-E Bulletin: February 2, 2018


United States v. Riesbeck

The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces released an opinion in United States v. Riesbeck on January 23, 2018. Mr. Riesbeck opted for a jury trial.  He was tried and convicted by a military court martial of sexual assault. Although the Coast Guard command from which the jury panel was selected had 20% female officers and 13% female enlisted members, 7 of the 10 panel members were women. Additionally, four of the panel members were victim advocates, “persons trained to provide support and counseling to victims of rape and sexual assault.” The jury that convicted the defendant was comprised of five women and two men which included the four victim advocates. The defendant made all of the appropriate objections to the composition of the panel in a timely fashion.

Military jury panels are selected by high ranking officers pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They are prohibited from “stacking” the panel in an effort to achieve a particular outcome. The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces stated the following in regard to this case:

"The salient facts paint a clear picture of court stacking based on gender in an atmosphere of external pressure to achieve specific results in sexual assault cases. Against that backdrop, purposefully selecting a panel that is seventy percent female, most of whom are victim advocates, from a roster of officers that was only twenty percent female and a pool of enlisted that was only thirteen percent female, smacks of a panel that was “hand-picked” by or for the Government."

The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned the conviction and further took the unusual step of prohibiting retrial of the defendant. They also stated:

"Due to the patent and intolerable efforts to manipulate the member selection process, contra every requirement of the law, the failures of the military judge, the DuBay military judge [judge that made factual findings as to the jury selection process on remand], and the CGCCA [Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals], to investigate, recognize, or ameliorate the clear court stacking in this case, the actual prejudice to the Appellant [Mr. Riesbeck] of being tried by a panel cherry-picked for the Government, dismissal with prejudice is the only remedy that can eradicate the unlawful command influence and ensure the public perception of fairness in the military justice system."

Jury Management Workshop

During this 2 1/2 day workshop on March 14-16, 2018 at the Ceremonial Courtroom in the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis, MO, participants will learn about best practices to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of jury operations, to ensure the integrity of the jury selection process, and to treat jurors with dignity and respect.

Ms. Paula Hannaford-Agor, Director of the NCSC Center for Jury Studies, teaches court managers and jury managers to:

• Identify strengths and weaknesses in jury operations
• Estimate the operational and fiscal impact of poor performance
• Implement policies and procedures to prevent or respond to legal challenges to the jury system
• Use tools, performance measures, and best practices to address problems

For more information, click here.

Juror Jailed for Lying

The Pittsburg-Post reported on January 28, 2018 that Allegheny County, PA juror Daniel Puhala was jailed by Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel for lying on a juror questionnaire. Mr. Puhala made a mistake in lying on the questionnaire, a worse mistake in admitting it to a fellow juror and a terrible mistake in talking about it within hearing range of an assistant prosecutor. 

Humorous Story About Jury Service

The Cavalier Daily published a story on January 25, 2018 written by a student named Katherine Firsching and titled Alternative Winter Break Spent as a Juror. She was summoned for jury duty in the Vista County, California Courthouse while home for the holidays from the University of Virginia. She gives a very colorful description of the people that she met and the experiences that she had. Even the facts of the case are odd and interesting. It is a well written article that is worth reading. 

Oversight in Summoning in DC

The Washington Post reported on January 28, 2018 that due to a holiday glitch, D.C. Superior Court failed to mail out thousands of juror summonses. Leah Gurowitz, a spokeswoman for the court indicated the problem was a one-time event. To compensate for the error, the court quickly sent out 2,330 emails telling residents to appear for service. 

Upcoming Events

February 2, 2018

Jur-E Bulletin is a publication of the Center for Jury Studies.

Editor: Greg Hurley

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