“Twenty Million Angry Men – The Case for Including Convicted Felons in Our Jury System”

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“Twenty Million Angry Men – The Case for Including Convicted Felons in Our Jury System”

That’s the title of Professor Jamie Binnall’s well-researched book published by the UC Press.  In the words of Mary Rose at the University of Texas: “Binnall’s creative studies show that felon-jurors can teach others and improve deliberations—precisely the accomplishment of this wonderful book.  Binnall offers incredibly readable accounts of the history of jury participation and theories of recidivism, character, and democracy. His rigorous data show, once again, that all people are far more than their worst mistakes."

Ohio Trial Judge Joins List of Jurists Who Allow Jurors to Ask Written Qs to Witnesses

The Dayton Daily News reports (subscription required) Warren County Judge Tim Tepe broke Ohio tradition and allowed jurors to ask written questions of witnesses during a recent trial.

“Meet the Jury in the Chauvin Murder Trial”

Law 360 this week profiles the jurors sitting in judgment of the ex-policeman.  A team of reporters examined the jurors’ responses (including audio recordings from the voir dire) to the 14-page pretrial questionnaire used in jury selection.  Their study gives readers a peak into their attitudes about the Black Lives Matter movement and much more.  And in Slate magazine interview, University of Illinois law professor Suja Thomas, a long-time student of juries, gives her analysis of the Chauvin jury.

What Is an “Impartial Juror” in the BLM Era?

In the latest issue of the Boston Review, Wesleyan University Professor Sonali Chakravarti tries to discern the evolution of jurors’ thinking about race.  She compares the questioning of the Chauvin trial jurors during jury selection with questioning in previous trials involving race relations.  Chakravarti asserts that questioning about someone’s beliefs with respect to the Black Lives Matter movement have changed since the trial of the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, years ago.  She believes courtroom actors are becoming more accepting of seating jurors who have knowledge and opinions about racially charged events.  For her, the very definition of an impartial juror may be shifting.

Are Prosecutors Largely Responsible for the Decline in Jury Trials?

Again, Law 360 reports, “The New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a group with more than 1,000 members, said in a report released Friday that ‘coercive’ prosecution tactics resulting in criminal defendants pleading guilty are largely responsible for killing jury trials, which hurts the constitutional rights of defendants.”

If Prospective Juror Is Sympathetic Toward Police, Should He Be Struck for Cause?

During jury selection in the prosecution of Joshua Heredia for assault and felony riot, a prospective juror was questioned about having friends in law enforcement and whether it would cause him to give deference to police officer testimony.  To which he said, “I would try not to let it be, but I am sympathetic towards them just because . . . the nature of what I . . . do and my relationship to them. I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't (indiscernible), but I would try to be unbiased.”  The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the trial judge’s denial of the defendant’s motion to strike the juror for cause.  Even though the trial judge did not address the juror’s demeanor or credibility, the appellate court found it significant that the juror did not know any of the police office witnesses in the case, and concluded, “[I]n light of the special deference we afford to the trial court's decision that the trial court did not unsustainably exercise its discretion when it denied the defendant's motion to strike [the juror] for cause.”