Attorney Boasts About His Chance to Be a Juror
The ABA Journal features a piece by attorney John P. McGill wherein he praises the opportunity to be a juror even though he initially hoped the trial lawyers would strike him during voir dire. In the end, he writes, “The system works, just not the way you think it does. If you can get on a jury, do it. It is an experience worth having and provides insight into the law, what a jury is confronted with, and how they handle—or don’t handle—what you tell them.”
San Francisco Courts Will Use Transparent Face Masks in Jury Trials
The San Francisco Chronicle provides readers with informative photos of Judge Vedica Puri holding a package of clear masks as well as the physical layout of courtrooms that are ready for jury trials.
New Jersey Supreme Court Takes Steps to Advance Diversity and Unbiased Jury Trials
Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts, announced last week a variety of steps to address racial issues surrounding jury trials. Recognizing a history of racial bias in the criminal justice system, the high court said it will expand juror orientation regarding bias, write new mandatory jury selection questions and mandatory jury-charging instructions, and consider court rule changes regarding impartiality in juror selection. The public defender office advocates allowing attorney-conducted voir dire on the ground that a judge can ask if the defendant's race will affect the jurors' ability to be impartial, but it generally doesn't go beyond that. The office spokesperson said, “Our jury selection process is just not as robust as it is in other states. I would like to see us look at being able to have more frank discussions with jurors about race, because I think that is a way that you really test bias in the system."
Bermuda Prosecutors Have More Peremptory Strikes Than Defenders—Supreme Court Halts Jury Trials
It has been the practice in Bermuda for Crown prosecutors in felony cases to have unlimited peremptory strikes while the defense has only three. The supreme court this week nullified an attempted murder conviction and found this imbalance unconstitutional. However, the court suspended its judgment for three months to afford time for the legislature to establish an even-handed policy. At the same time, the legislature will consider repealing a criminal code provision authorizing all-male juries in certain kinds of cases. On that point, Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons stated, “It is also timely to correct a sexist provision in the Criminal Code Act 1907 which permits empaneling all-male juries in cases where matters of an indecent nature are likely to arise. I don’t believe the public needs much explanation as to why this provision no longer comports with gender equality rights.”
Appellate Panel Sustains Successful Batson Challenge Involving Jurors Who Spoke and Understood Spanish
In a Texas tort case, an unsuccessful defendant disputed the trial court’s grant of plaintiff’s Batson challenge based on defendant’s striking prospective jurors who spoke Spanish. Defendant attempted to justify the peremptory strikes by asserting these jurors would not abide by the interpretation of the official court interpreters. The appellate panel agreed with the trial judge that the justification was pretextual because during the entire voir dire, defense counsel never informed the venire panel nor questioned jurors about the importance of following the official interpretations of Spanish testimony.