Judge-Jury Verdict Comparisons in Termination of Parental Rights Cases

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Judge-Jury Verdict Comparisons in Termination of Parental Rights Cases

University of Texas law professor Mary R. Rose and student Nisa R. Sheikh just published the results of their research comparing verdicts in bench trials and jury trials in TPR cases.  Their article's abstract reads as follows:

  • Research typically finds some variability in verdicts across judges versus juries, indicating juries’ added value in legal disputes; that is, juries can and do see cases differently than judges. In an exploratory study, we examine termination of parental rights (TPR) trials, a nontraditional context in which a few states permit juries as well as judges to make decisions. Prior unpublished reports suggest that both judges and juries overwhelmingly terminate rights, but we questioned whether the same pattern would emerge in an area (Texas) with a strong anti-government history. Examining 60 trials in one county, with verdicts on 110 parents, we find that parents used juries infrequently (15% of trials, 12% of parental verdicts) and that terminations dominated verdict outcomes for both judges and juries. An intensively coded subsample of cases revealed few substantive differences in case types, although jury trials last nearly four times as long as bench trials. We conclude that juries are unlikely to provide different outcomes to parents fighting TPR, but we discuss other potential value of jury trials in these cases. Nonetheless, states may need to balance such advantages against cost considerations stemming from longer, more intensive trials.

Nebraska Lawyers and Broadcasters Join to Produce New Jury Orientation Video

Radio station KLIN reports the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and the Nebraska Broadcasters’ Association have jointly produced (in the words of the Foundation president Robert D. Mullin, Jr.) “an accurate, down-to-earth portrayal of what goes on in courtrooms across Nebraska daily.”  Mullin also noted, “As a trial attorney, I am impressed with the content of the video and the watercolor prints that remind us of courtroom sketches used to depict real court proceedings. The video gives prospective jurors solid, basic information that will allow them to feel comfortable and confident in their roles should they be chosen to serve on a jury in Nebraska.”  The video is accessible here.

Federal Circuits Address Delta Variant in Variety of Ways

In the face of burgeoning COVID Delta variant infections, reporter Cara Salvatore gathers together the latest COVID-19 protocols in the federal circuits in Law 360 ($).

Will Juries Start Tackling Patent Eligibility Issues More Frequently?

In the August 23 issue of Law 360 ($), trial attorneys answer that question in the affirmative once the pandemic recedes.  Author Ryan Davis notes the Federal Circuit’s 2018 decision in Berkheimer v. HP Inc. (881 F.3d 1360) assigned to juries (not judges) the question of whether an invention is eligible for a patent because it involves something more than “well-understood, routine and conventional” activities known in the industry.  Davis suggests judges and patent litigators will more frequently defer to juries on issues previously decided only by judges.

Your Assistance, Please

Jur-E Bulletin reader recently asked whether courts are requiring prospective jurors to complete attestation forms about for COVID-19 screening (requiring a juror to sign a statement they have not knowingly been exposed, been directed to quarantine, or have any new/unexplained symptoms).  If your court has developed these procedures, please let us know and send relevant forms to the Jur-E Bulletin editor Judge Gregory Mize (ret.).