Idaho Reduces # of Peremptory Strikes During Pandemic Emergency
In preparation for the resumption of jury trials on September 14, the Idaho Supreme Court issued an order detailing new jury trial procedures that include (1) an opt-out opportunity for citizens who are 65 years of age or older and (2) reduction of permissible peremptory strikes in each case category: capital felony (10 per side—no change), non-capital felony (reduced from 10 to 3 per side), misdemeanor (reduced from 4 to 2 per side), and civil (reduced from 4 to 2 per side).
Video of ABOTA’s Webinar on “Jury Trials in the Age of Pandemics” Now Available
On July 21, the American Board of Trial Advocates brought together a diverse panel of experienced judges, lawyers, and healthcare specialists to discuss optimum ways to conduct jury trials in the current environment.
There Can Be Dangers When Judge Predicts How Long a Jury Trial Will Last
After a jury rendered a defense verdict in a medical malpractice case, a juror wrote a letter saying she agreed to a Friday-evening verdict to avoid having to return for jury deliberations in the following week. The losing plaintiff appealed the verdict. However, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the verdict because the letter did not present any evidence of misconduct. In a concurring opinion, Justice Melody Stewart noted the trial judge may have created false expectations among jurors by promising earlier to wrap up the case on a Friday.
Lawyer/Juror Shared His Research During Final Deliberations—Appeals Court Suspends Guilty Verdict
A practicing lawyer on a Colorado jury informed his fellow jurors about the proper role of character-witness testimony. In reporting this conduct to the judge, another juror quoted the lawyer as saying, “I knew taking the bar [exam] would come in handy.” An appellate panel instructed the Denver District Court to hold a hearing determining whether the lawyer introduced prejudicial legal content into the deliberations.
The Online Courtroom Project Examines the Dynamics of an Entirely Online Jury Trial—Its Findings Are Instructive
The Online Courtroom Project (OCP) describes itself as “an advisory task force on the psychological, behavioral, communication, and technical elements of online courtroom operations for criminal and civil matters.” It aims to provide “research and recommendations to the courts and the legal profession to improve the efficacy of online operations in all aspects of the criminal and civil litigation process, including but not limited to, pre-trial, alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR’), and trial.” With an ever-increasing backlog of jury trials caused by the pandemic, courts and attorneys are searching for ways to begin jury trials during the public health emergency. To learn about the opportunities, challenges, and limitations of conducting online trials, the OCP demonstrated a totally online, two-day, civil jury trial in front of live observers. The endeavor tested many operational procedures such as virtual spacing of the jury room, courtroom, sidebar, and attorney-client conferences. The 83-page final product includes a series of cogent recommendations that will likely benefit court administrators and trial participants as jury trials resume in the months ahead.