To Minimize Juror Trips to Court, New Mexico Establishes Pretrial Plea Deadline
In anticipation of trials soon resuming, the state supreme court issued an order requiring plea and settlement agreements no later than five days before the selection of a jury or the start of a non-jury trial in criminal or civil cases. Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura said, “As our courts are resuming jury trials, this deadline will help protect the health and safety of New Mexicans by eliminating last-minute pleas and settlements after prospective jurors, witnesses, court personnel and other people have gathered in a courthouse anticipating the start of a trial.”
Is Remote Jury Selection Violative of the Public Trial Imperative?
Eugene Volokh says yes. In this blog post last week, he argues, “Inaudible voir dire prevents the public from participating in the justice system—thus sapping public trust and depriving the system of the other benefits of public supervision. And a delayed and costly transcript cannot substitute for listening to voir dire as it happens. Routine use of hushers should therefore be recognized as violating the right to a truly public trial.”
Federal PD Challenges Representative Nature of New York Grand Juries
In a series of filings last week, federal defenders effectively challenged the indictments handed down by the Brooklyn federal court's lone grand jury on its first day back, arguing that defendants were denied a representative group of their peers due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Juror Failed to Disclose Prior Misdemeanor Conviction While Represented by Same Public Defender Office as Defendant – Unlawful Bias?
In Scott v. Arnold, petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder. Thereafter, Scott learned the jury foreperson committed misconduct in failing to disclose his prior misdemeanor conviction and his dissatisfaction with his representation in that case by the same public defender's office that represented Scott. In his habeas corpus petition, Scott alleged that had he known about the juror’s past, he would have struck him for cause during voir dire. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit rejected Scott’s appeal because there had been no showing that the dishonesty concealed a valid for-cause challenge.
Former Juror in Baltimore’s Freddy Gray Case Reflects on Why It’s Hard for Jurors to Convict Police of Wrongdoing
One of the most notorious prosecutions of police misconduct involved Freddy Gray, who died in an encounter with police in 2015. During the prosecution of one of the arresting officers, some witnesses said one of several officers on the scene knelt on Gray's neck and other police threw him headfirst into the back of a patrol van. When the van reached the police station a half hour later, Gray was removed and taken to a hospital in a coma. He died of spinal cord injuries a week later. The jury deadlocked on manslaughter charges against one officer involved. Now, one of the jurors who held out for a guilty verdict, has gone on record to explain why she believes some jurors cannot vote to convict a police officer. "When somebody walks into a courtroom dressed in their uniform, they carry a certain weight. They didn't come in dressed as civilians. They dressed as officers." And, because the case involved interactions among different ranks of officers on the scene, she added, “During deliberations, one juror, a firefighter, told the other panel members that he had been taught ‘if the person above you said to do this, that's what you do. . . . You never go above your rank.’"
The Jur-E Bulletin will not be sent next week due to the Independence Day holiday. The next issue will be sent on Friday, July 10.