New Jersey Supreme Court Orders New Jury Selection Procedures
Last week, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and State Administrative Director Glenn A. Grant signed an announcement to the bar and public regarding a series of reforms to jury selection procedures in the Garden State. Some of the 25 new procedures will become effective on September 1, 2022, and others on January 1, 2023. And two recommended reforms would require legislation by the state legislature—one would allow people with criminal convictions who have completed their sentence to have their eligibility restored to serve as a juror, and the other would hike juror pay. The New Jersey Monitor nicely summarizes components of the changes, including:
- Adopting a one-day or one-trial term for petit jury service
- Removing fines for not showing up to jury duty in most circumstances
- Adding a QR code to jury notices to connect jurors to online information
- Asking about race, ethnicity, and gender on the juror qualification questionnaire
- Targeting outreach in underrepresented communities
- Requiring implicit bias training for judges and staff
- Enhancing juror instruction to reinforce awareness of implicit bias
- Publishing annual demographic data on jurors
- Educating the public on the importance of jury duty
Single-Person Grand Juries Nixed by State Supreme Court
The Detroit Free Press (behind pay wall) reports that some state prosecutors are worried a recent unanimous decision by the Michigan Supreme Court outlawing one-person grand juries will hamper future prosecutions.
Oklahoma Assistant DAs Suspended for Watching Jury Deliberations on CCT
We learned from the e-edition of Tulsa World that two state prosecutors have been suspended pending investigation of whether they feloniously observed jury deliberations on a courthouse security camera.
After Jurors Express Fears of Photo Intimidation, Trial Judge Urges Them to “Focus on the Evidence”
The Register Citizen (New Haven, Connecticut) reports some deliberating jurors in a murder trial complained to the trial judge that they feared for their safety after noticing they were being filmed and photographed while leaving the courthouse. In response, Judge John Blawie told the jury:
This is a very busy judicial district with a lot of cases going on. The court can’t control what happens out on the public highway out in front of the building. I don’t want the jury to be concerned that they are somehow, in any way, shape or form, being singled out, because we want to have a fair, just, and impartial jury to decide this case. I would put any concerns about that out of your mind and just focus on the evidence, because this is an important case for both sides, and we would appreciate your undivided attention to the business at hand.
Stoicism of Prospective Juror = Valid Reason to Use a Peremptory Strike Against a Juror
That’s what the 7th Federal Judicial Circuit opined in United States v. Protho. In this assault and kidnapping case, the appellate panel rejected the defendant’s claim that it was a violation of the Batson doctrine for the prosecutor to use a peremptory strike against a Black juror because “she did not react strongly enough to the alleged crime.” In doing so, the court stated, “[A]lthough we share Protho’s concerns about the wisdom of permitting stoicism alone to support striking a prospective juror, there's nothing inherently race-based in that explanation.”
Jury Trial Waivers Are Increasing in Merger/Acquisition Agreements
The JD Supra blog reports that the inclusion of jury trial waiver clauses in M&A purchase agreements has doubled over the last 15 years.