Michigan Supreme Court Contemplating Statewide Rule for Communication Devices Used in Courthouses

Jur-E Bulletin: June 7, 2019

Michigan Supreme Court Contemplating Statewide Rule for Communication Devices Used in Courthouses

The high court is seeking publiccomment on proposal that would do away with a current policy that has chief trial judges making the decision for their courthouses. The new policy would allow persons to bring phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, and other recording devices in courthouses throughout the state as long as users adhere to specified rules.

Jury Foreperson Praises Jury Duty – Despite Eventual Deadlock and Mistrial

Nancy Simpson found virtue in jury service even without rendering a final verdict. Her op-ed piece in her hometown newspaper may inspire readers.

Virginia Appellate Panel Examines Trial Judge’s Ruling on Motions to Excuse Jurors for Cause

In Castillo v. Commonwealth (2019 WL 2344748), the defendant claimed that the trial judge erred in failing to remove two jurors for cause. One was a venire member whose neighbor died under circumstances that were in some ways similar to the case’s homicide victim. The other was a trial juror who had an emotional breakdown midtrial. The panel sustained the judge’s denials of motions to strike the jurors for cause. Its reasoning is instructive.

In a Batson Challenge, How Should a Court Assess Whether a Peremptory Strike Is Genuinely Race-Neutral or Pretextual?

In People v. Vaughn, an appellate court assessed whether a prosecutor’s peremptory strikes of three prospective jurors were pretextual and whether the trial judge’s denial of a Batson challenge was “sincere and reasoned.” The panel’s analysis is instructive of how to navigate the three-step Batson doctrine.

Mississippi Supreme Court Resolves First Impression Question in Capital Case Involving a Juvenile

The high court in Moore v. State overturned a capital sentence based upon a finding that, in the absence of a juvenile defendant waiving his right to a jury sentencing, a trial judge cannot impose the sentence but must impanel a jury. 

New Research on the Effects of Trial Procedures on Jurors

(1) Pre-deliberation Jury Discussions
An article in Law and Human Behavior reports that Michigan State University’s Department of Psychology finds pre-deliberation jury discussions tend to generate juror bias in favor of the later-discussed evidence over the pre-deliberation evidence. Additional information can be obtained from N.L. Kerr, MSU Department of Psychology, East Lansing, MI 48840.

(2) Death Qualification Voir Dire
Law and Human Behavior also reports on research at City University of New York challenging the proposition that death qualification procedures (where, during capital case voir dire, prospective jurors are questioned about their views on capital punishment to determine their ability and willingness to impose the penalty) tends to make final jury members prone to impose the death penalty. Additional information can be obtained from J.A. Vitriol, CUNY, John Jay College, Department of Psychology, New York City, NY 10021.

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