Nov 19

final-jur-e headline

Three-Year Old Summoned for Jury Duty

People magazine reports that the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, recently summoned toddler Madison Behrmann for jury service.  Madison received a letter asking her to fill out a questionnaire.  The letter also stated her name was received from the New Jersey voter registration list.  Identity theft in action?

A Reminder: Juries Determine Criminal Sentences in Missouri and Elsewhere

News 8 in Connecticut reports on the 28-year sentence imposed by a Missouri jury in the second-degree murder trial of Joseph Elledge.  Only four states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas) currently direct juries to sentence defendants in non-capital felony cases.  (As reported earlier in the Jur-E Bulletin, Virginia earlier this year repealed a 223-year-old law to put that power into the hands of trial judges.)

Vice President Harris Advocates for Jury Selection Reforms

During a press conference in Paris last week, former prosecutor Kamala Harris called for changes to jury selection processes.  According to Fox News, she said, “For example, over the years, there has been talk about understanding that jurors, if they are a working person, if they work two, or three jobs, unlikely they can sit for hours on end, potentially weeks and weeks on end, and not be at their job…not get paid leave.  And they just can’t afford it, which means that we will, in those cases, have a jury that is probably not a jury of peers."  Her statements appeared to be in response to questioning about jury selection in the Georgia prosecution of three white men charged with shooting Ahmaud Arbery.

USA Today Analyzes Jury Selection Questionnaires in Derek Chauvin Trial

In response to media requests, the Hennepin County (Minnesota) trial judge in the George Floyd murder case last week released the text of the jury questionnaires used in jury selection.  USA Today, with the help of a New York-based trial consultant, undertook a focused analysis of six of the 69 questions designed to ferret out potential juror bias.  According to USA Today, the six questions asked for potential jurors' impressions of the defendants, whether they could be impartial, how many times they saw video of the incident, and whether they were favorable or unfavorable toward Black Lives Matter and "blue lives matter," a pro-police slogan.  The study compared the selected juror responses with the non-selected ones.  For example, the share of seated jurors who wrote that they had a neutral impression of the defendant was greater than the jury pool, and the share of jurors with a negative impression was smaller. About 70% of the pool said they could be fair and impartial while all the selected jurors said they could.