Jan 7

final-jur-e headline

Aussie Lawyer Criticizes the Influence of Media on Ghislaine Maxwell Verdict

We have the benefit of a viewpoint on the other side of the earth. Barrister Greg Barns writes in The Sydney Morning Herald about “the insidious influence of trial by media” in America generally and the Maxwell trial in particular.

Maxwell’s Lawyers Want New Trial Based on Juror Posttrial Statements to Media

The Washington Post reports that former jurors spoke to multiple new outlets about disclosures made during final deliberations suggesting false answers were given in pretrial prospective-juror questionnaires.  Reuters and The Independent reported this week that one juror, who was not identified by his full name, talked about being a victim of sexual abuse while trying to convince other jurors to believe a woman who testified against Maxwell. The New York Times quoted another unnamed juror saying they were sexually assaulted as a child and talked about it during deliberations.

Losing Opioid Defendants Target Trial Judge’s Jury Management Errors

After the recently concluded bellwether trial of various retailers of opioids, lawyers for CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart filed a scathing critique of the trial judge’s handling of the jury trial.  Their 50-page motion for a new trial criticized Judge Dan Aron Polster’s “pro-plaintiff” jury instruction, the exclusion of potential jurors who were unvaccinated (making for an unrepresentative jury), and failure to declare a mistrial after it was clear a juror conducted independent research.  With respect to the last claim, Law 360 ($) noted that all parties initially agreed there should be a mistrial declared based on the juror’s research activity.  The damages phase of the trial is yet to occur.

It All Started in Washington State – Jury Selection Reform

The Washington Post has undertaken an overview of how several state courts have reviewed their jury selection practices and found it necessary to address the shortcomings of the Batson doctrine.  It all started with a years-long study by Washington State leading to adoption of new trial procedures for how judges rule on Batson challenges.  Elisabeth Semel, a director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said, “In every study that I know of that has been done across the country, looking both in state courts and in federal courts, there has been a universal finding.  The exercise of racially discriminatory peremptory strikes remains an ever-present feature of the jury selection system.  So, you can pick California, you can pick North Carolina, you can pick Connecticut, you can pick the state of Washington, Oregon, on and on. And the results are unremarkably the same.”

“From Community to the Courtroom: Increasing Diversity and Access to the Jury Box”

With funding from the United States Department of Justice to implement the Justice for All Act of 2004, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Center for State Courts, and RTI International have combined to provide training and technical assistance to support state, tribal, and local efforts to protect the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  One fruit of their collaboration is a three-part webinar to increase diverse juries.  The series is viewable here.