Why Are Civil Jury Trials Disappearing?

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Why Are Civil Jury Trials Disappearing?

Professors Shari Seidman Diamond and Rebecca M. Salerno write “Reasons for the Disappearing Jury Trial: Perspectives from Attorneys and Judges” in the latest issue of the Louisiana Law Review.  The National Law Review provides highlights of their research here.

Native American Defendant Claims South Dakota Jury Pool Is Not Representative

Eli Erickson, a resident of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in central South Dakota, was convicted of drug distribution charges.  On appeal he claimed a Sixth Amendment violation occurred due to the absence of any Native Americans on his jury.  In United States v. Erickson, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit rejected the claim because Erickson did not present evidence about the number of Native Americans in the jury pool, thereby failing to show that their representation in that pool was “not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of [Native Americans] in the community.”  The court’s reasoning shines light the 8th Circuit’s “fair cross-section” jurisprudence.  Consistent with the Jury Service and Selection Act of 1968, South Dakota only uses the registered voter list as its source for jury summoning.  Erickson asserted use of voter registration polls to populate the master jury wheel excludes Native Americans because they register to vote in a lower proportion than the general population.  In response, the appellate panel stated, “To demonstrate systematic exclusion, Erickson must provide additional evidence in support of his claim, such as “a defect in the [jury selection] process itself that serves to exclude [the underrepresented group],” “that the voter registration . . . requirements impose . . . discriminatory qualifications on applicants,” or “that the administration of the juror selection plan is discriminatory.” [Citations omitted except United States v. Sanchez, 156 F.3d 875, 879 (8th Cir. 1998) (suggesting that systematic exclusion may be established by presenting evidence that an underrepresented group “face[s] obstacles in the voter registration process”)].  On this record Erickson has not provided any explanation for how the Central Division’s reliance on voter registration rolls otherwise operates to systematically exclude Native Americans from criminal jury pools.

Jury Duty Pay in Pennsylvania is $9 per day – Civic Leader Protests

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed by Jen Devor, co-founder of Better Civics, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to revolutionizing civic engagement.  She especially bemoans the $9 juror stipend, which has remained unchanged since 1959.

NCSC Charts State-by-State Court Masking Regulations

Are you concerned about which court systems require masks in courthouses and which ones conduct their work with no statewide restrictions?  Simply see the data visualization.

In High-Profile Federal Prosecution, Parties Battle Over Size of Jury Selection Questionnaires

Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of the health technology company Theranos, is awaiting trial in California on multiple fraud charges.  Law 360 reports (subscription required) she is asking the trial judge to authorize the use of a 45-page, 112-question form asking whether a juror has consumed anything from a long list of books, shows, articles, and podcasts.  She claims the questionnaire is needed because of “pervasive negative” publicity about her and Theranos.  The government opposes the request because the questionnaire is “far too long, deeply intrusive in unnecessary ways, argumentative, and repetitive.”   Prosecutors filed their own 13-page, 51-question proposal last week.  Either way, summoned citizens will have a lot of reading and writing to do.