Apr 1

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To Benefit Crime Victims—Lawmaker Seeks Reform of the Timing and Notice of Jury Verdicts

An advocacy group in Connecticut has successfully lobbied for introduction of a bill to give crime victims advanced notice of when a jury is about to deliver a verdict.  The Norwich Bulletin reports on the difficulty victims typically have in attending a verdict delivery and the challenges state legislators have in setting the time duration of any advance notice to victims.

Michigan Media Outlets Report on Jury Demographics and Death Threats in Governor-Kidnapping Conspiracy Trial

The March 18 Jur-E Bulletin reported a delay in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  The trial is now underway in front of 12 jurors and four alternates who were summoned from 22 counties.  Click On Detroit and 9 & 10 News provide our readers with some details about both the selected and de-selected jurors. For example, the final jury is composed of ten women and six men.  Among the dismissed jurors, several either disliked or were fans of the governor.  Another did not trust government.  Almost all members of the venire panel owned guns.  And all said they heard at least something about the case.  And, sadly, The Detroit News ($) reported earlier this week FBI agents raided a home while investigating threats to the trial judge and defense lawyers.

Striking a Prospective Juror Who Opposes USA’s Immigration Policy Is Not Discriminatory Against Latinos

United States v. Nieto presented an appeal by two Latinos who claimed the trial judge violated the Batson doctrine by allowing the prosecution to strike a Latina juror under the pretext that she objected to the federal government’s immigration policies.  The Seventh Federal Circuit Appeals Court rejected their appeal saying, “Disagreeing with U.S. immigration policy, in short, is not dependent on ethnicity.”

Michigan County Struggling With No-Show Jurors Post-Pandemic

The Battle Creek Inquirer reports that after jury trials resumed in Calhoun County there has been a surge in no-shows—averaging 8 per trial and as many as 15 in one trial.  The county communications manager says there typically are 40 citizens summoned for each trial.

Psychologist Ponders Jury Selection Dynamics

Dr. Lori Kinsella writes a piece in Psychology Today that assesses voir dire processes from a social science perspective.  She cites titles like “Voir Dire Becomes Google” and “When Emotionality Trumps Reason: A Study of Individual Processing Style and Juror Bias.”  Her insights include:

"A study investigating the biases of juries in criminal cases concluded that the attractiveness of a defendant can play a role in jury decisions on convictions and sentence recommendations. In this study, the jurors who participated were divided into two categories. Those who process information through their emotional filters and personal experiences and those who process information through objective and rational-based filters. The jurors who emotionally processed information were found to give lighter sentences to physically attractive defendants and harsher sentences and convictions to unattractive defendants. The study supports the conclusion that among the research participants, juror bias against unattractive defendants resulted in harsher conviction and sentencing outcomes."