Arizona Begins Deep Study of Jury System; Focus on Fair Cross-section Compliance
Chief Justice Robert Brutinel last week issued an order creating a task force to collect demographic data on jury composition and to make recommendations related to the selection of jurors. The task force also is supposed to consider whether lawyers’ peremptory challenges of jurors systemically reduce the representation of minorities and whether the peremptory challenge rules should be changed. According to the Associated Press, the task force was created to promote public trust and confidence in the jury system. The task force was ordered to present a report with recommendations to the Arizona Judicial Council by October 1.
“Blabbermouth Juror with a Podcast” Eluded Dismissal During Voir Dire, Now He’s the Focus of an Appeal
Jake Letizia is a freelance editor, standup comedian, and podcaster who was not de-selected from a Manhattan federal jury that convicted Akshay Aiyer of currency manipulation. Despite frequent admonitions from the trial judge to jurors about making outside communications, it was revealed posttrial that Letizia used his weekly podcast (Talkin’ to Myself) to disparage jury duty, the judge, lawyers, and the defendant during the trial. In denying defendant’s motion to vacate the verdict, the trial judge found it significant that Letizia was an attentive juror, his podcasts were hyperbolic exaggerations, had few listeners (100 normally), and did not mention the evidence. The trial court ruling is now on appeal. The New York Times reports Letizia said if he were called again for jury duty, he would have a perfect excuse to avoid it. He would just have to say: “Listen, I have a podcast, and it created a whole mess last time, so you don’t want me on this.”
The Pluses and Minuses of Zoom Trials
Law360 interviewed veteran trial lawyers, a trial consultant, and jurors who participated in virtual trials—one trial was the first virtual trial in the country and lasted almost two months. The interviewees make cogent comparisons of live and virtual trials. For example, consultant Karen Lisko said, “One of the biggest things we found was that the remote jurors said they actually preferred being remote, and that they could be more candid, especially during jury selection. Because they were in their own home, it wasn't as intimidating as a courtroom.”
Conviction Upheld Even Though Juror Failed to Disclose She Knew Defendant, His Girlfriend, and Another Witness
Voir Dire Questioning in the George Floyd Murder Trial—Lessons in Indirection
ABC Eyewitness News in St. Paul, Minnesota reports on an interesting assortment of Q & As from jury selection in the prosecution of former police officer Derek Chauvin. For example, prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked a prospective juror about his interest in sports. “You go to games at the stadium?” Schleicher asked. The juror replied he did and that he had season tickets to the Minnesota Vikings. “Did you watch the Super Bowl last year?” The prosecutor quickly followed up: “There's some people who have decided not to watch NFL football anymore as a sort of a protest of players who had taken a knee during the National Anthem. . . . What are your thoughts about that?” Ellie Krug, an implicit-bias expert and trainer, told the TV station the questions about sports may have been a chance for the prosecutor to connect with the juror on a more human level.