Jan 28

final-jur-e headline

Judge Requires a Juror to Serve After Unsuccessful Efforts to Rehabilitate

The civil jury trial in Guerrero v. Cardenas presents an extraordinary example of a judge not only trying to rehabilitate jurors who do not want to be jurors in a case but also requiring the jurors to serve.  After suffering a defense verdict, plaintiff claimed the judge improperly required two jurors to serve on the jury despite one saying he would “never serve on a jury” and the other juror expressing reluctance to serve because of what happened to a family member in a jury trial.  A Texas intermediate appellate court opinion denying the plaintiff’s request for a new trial provides large portions of the voir dire transcript.  The judge’s dialogue with these venire members discloses his extraordinary, unsuccessful efforts to convince each juror to serve on the jury.  When each declined, the judge ordered them to serve.

Who Are the Jurors in the Federal Case Against Ex-Minneapolis Police Officers?

In the ongoing federal trial of three former police officers who were on the scene in George Floyd’s murder, it is noteworthy that jury selection in this case is vastly different in manner and duration compared to voir dire in the state court prosecution of Derek Chauvin.  For example, in the Chauvin case jury selection took eleven days and drew prospective jurors only from Hennepin County.  In the federal case against Chauvin’s police partners, jury selection took one day and drew panel members from a variety of counties—some many miles away from Minneapolis.  YouTube provides us with a broadcast by TV channel KARE11 describing some demographics of the federal jury hearing the case.

Attorneys Share Thoughts About the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Trials

Senior partners at law firms specializing in plaintiff cases were interviewed in a December issue of the National Law Journal. ($) Robins Kaplan Los Angeles-based partner Roman M. Silberfeld assessed the effects of pandemic on trial lawyers saying, “There are plenty of lawyers, mostly on the younger side, who don’t feel the need to come to the office five days a week.”  However, he is a strong supporter of a post-pandemic return to the office, given that staff is fully vaccinated.  He believes younger lawyers will suffer from the lack of interaction with more senior attorneys. “They don’t even understand what they are losing.” He still recalls weekly lunches with his mentor as a golden opportunity for a young lawyer to learn “more than I ever did from everything formal he did for me.”

Federal Judge Requires Only Vaccinated Jurors in Upcoming Jury Trial

Reuters reports on a federal judge’s strong views about the importance of jurors being vaccinated.  In an order delaying a civil trial due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in the Southern District of Florida called getting vaccinated against COVID-19 part of a broader social obligation “to consider the safety and well-being of our community” and said that those who have not been vaccinated “have given a distorted meaning to the COVID-19 vaccine, rather than recognize the vaccine for what it is—an effective and safe means of minimizing transmission and illness.  It is the Court’s belief that the vast majority of the unvaccinated adults are uninformed and irrational, or—less charitably—selfish and unpatriotic.”  The judge had proposed excluding unvaccinated people from the jury, but a lawyer for the defendant insurance company objected.

El Chapo Claims of Juror Misconduct Rejected by Appellate Court

In United States v. Guzman Loerathe U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is serving life in prison in Colorado.  Reuters quotes the three-judge panel, to say there was no "clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence" from a Vice News article to prove juror misconduct.  "None of the allegations in the Vice News article shows that any juror was not impartial, harbored bias against Guzman, or was otherwise unfit to serve.”  (By way of background, VICE News reported on an exclusive interview with a former juror who claimed that at least five fellow jurors violated the judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the trial. The juror also shared details of the deliberations, the extraordinary security precautions that were in place, and the jury’s views on Chapo, his lawyers, the prosecution, and several key witnesses.)