Federal Judge Downplays Use of Plexiglass in Courtroom

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Federal Judge Downplays Use of Plexiglass in Courtroom

Connecticut U.S. District Judge Michael Shea last week decided that a Ponzi scheme trial set to begin in June will take place in a courtroom without plexiglass.  Based on medical advice, he determined that plexiglass “isn’t all that protective.”  Plexiglass and a HEPA filter will only be used at the witness stand so that witnesses can unmask and be better evaluated by jurors.  All other trial actors must be masked.

Judge Admonished for Comments About Jury Verdict

The California Commission on Judicial Performance has publicly admonished Judge Patrick Connolly for (1) during an arraignment, displaying improper demeanor toward two criminal defense attorneys, and (2) in a different case, making an inappropriate remark about the jury verdict to a defendant who had been acquitted.  In the Matter Concerning Connolly, decision and order (April 2, 2021).

Civil Trials Will Only Occur on Zoom in Minnesota Federal Courts

Law 360 reports U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Tunheim will keep holding civil jury trials on Zoom even after the pandemic has abated.  The chief judge said virtual proceedings can help to relieve the criminal trial backlog and can still be held in the middle of a St. Paul blizzard.

“The Online Courtroom Now and Post-Pandemic: Skills and Tools for Remote Advocacy”

That is the title of a free, 90-minute webinar hosted by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Online Courtroom Project on April 23 at 1 pm ET.  Register here.

Despite Lack of Demographic Data on Jury Pool Composition, Judge Halts Jury Selection on Claim of No Black Jurors in the Jury Pool

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that state district judge T. Glenn Ellington halted a rape jury trial after public defender Jennifer Burrill argued there were no blacks in her client’s jury pool.  Remarkably, according to Burrill’s motion, none of the three state agencies that compile information on those sectors of the community — the state Department of Taxation and Revenue, the Motor Vehicle Division, and the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office—could produce statistics on race.  As we wait for the judge’s written order, one can wonder how a fair cross-section claim under Duren v. Missouri can be prosecuted in the Land of Enchantment.

Another Jury Trial Involving Alleged Police Assault on Black Man Ends Without a Conviction

5 on Your Side in St. Louis reports that three white police officers went on trial in mid-March for beating up Luther Hall, an African American undercover cop.  After 13.5 hours of deliberations, the jury rendered a not-guilty verdict against one defendant and a mistrial was declared with respect to the other defendants.  Evidence in the case included a text message from one defendant to his father indicating he gave a “good whooping” to Hall.