NYU Law School Charts Judicial Views on Gradual Return of In-Person Jury Trials

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NYU Law School Charts Judicial Views on Gradual Return of In-Person Jury Trials

Last summer, NCSC asked 1,000 people whether they would prefer serving as a juror (1) in-person, (2) remotely, or (3) had no preference either way.  The survey found that gender, age, and race were the most relevant variables.  Shortly thereafter, the Civil Jury Project (CJP) at NYU Law School surveyed judges about what they had been observing regarding juror demographics during the first six months of the pandemic. The researchers wanted see juror demographics in the courts that had started jury trials.  Those survey results are found here.  Now, a year later, the CJP has published the results of another survey of judges. Major takeaways include:

  • In the previous survey, 44.4% of those who had resumed trials had noticed a difference in the demographics of gender, age, or race of potential jurors (as compared to before the pandemic).  According to the current survey, 75.0% of those responding to the current survey are not noticing any change in jury demographics (as compared to before the pandemic).
  • In response to the most recent survey question regarding which remote procedures respondents may keep even after their court reopens fully for in-person trials, 92.2% said yes for remote scheduling conferences, 87.5% said yes for remote motion hearings, 20.3% said yes for remote jury selection followed by an in-person trial, 14.1% said yes for full remote trials, and 3.1% said yes for remote deliberation after an in-person trial.

Juror in Chauvin Trial Shares Lessons Learned from Her Experience

Twenty-five-year-old Journee Howard is one of two former jurors who spoke out about their jury service in the notorious trial.  She now has been interviewed in the Brainerd Dispatch about why she decided to talk to news media.  She spoke about the honor and sadness of the experience.

Defendants in Arbery Homicide Case Withdraw Motion to Ban Media from Jury Selection

Lawyers for defendants accused of murdering unarmed jogger Ahmaud Arbery motioned the trial judge to bar media companies during individual questioning of potential jurors.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media companies opposed the request. During a recess in the motions hearing, the disputing parties conferred after which the defense withdrew its motion.  Perhaps we will learn the substance of their agreement when the trial gets underway on October 18.

Attorney Telling Jury Facts Outside the Trial Record Results in Overturned Conviction

In a traffic accident case captioned Jackson v. Park (B297616, July 27, 2021), the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District overturned a defense jury verdict because defense counsel repeatedly argued “facts” that were either prohibited by the trial judge’s pretrial rulings or were simply not in evidence.  Trial attorney Stephen Squillario writes in JD Supra, “Jackson, while recognizing that attorney misconduct alone may be insufficient to warrant the granting of a new trial, serves as a firm reminder to practice caution when advancing any argument at trial which may pertain to, or even touch upon, excluded evidence and/or facts not in the record.”

Tar Heel Juror: “I Was Truly Impressed Beyond Belief at the Overall Experience”

The North Carolina judicial branch last week published “A Not-So-Angry Letter from Juror Number Two.”  Among other things, the first-time-ever juror had this to say, “I came into the process expecting horrific clashes during deliberations, but the respect and seriousness with which each juror conducted themselves was night and day different from what I expected. That's not to say we always agreed, and we didn't ruffle each other during the deliberations, but the respect the collective group was able to maintain is a far cry from how we see Americans treating each other on the news these days.  It brought comfort to know we can be civil while not always seeing eye to eye. There is hope.”