Jul 8

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Pound Civil Justice Institute Publishes Transcript of 2021 Forum on Civil Jury Trial Reform

The Pound Civil Justice Institute’s twenty-ninth Forum for State Appellate Court Judges was held on July 17, 2021.  The forum was titled Juries Voir Dire, Batson, and Beyond:  Achieving Fairness in Civil Litigation.  The forum featured academic papers written by Prof. Valerie Hans and Prof. Shari Diamond.  The authors focused on jury panel representativeness, the importance of expansive juror-summoning processes, improved voir dire questioning with the advent of greater understanding of implicit bias, and the crucial role of appellate court rulemaking in accomplishing sustainable jury reforms.  Paper presentations were followed by live commentary from legal experts and frank discussion among the attending judges.

A Jury Assembly Room Educates the Public and Honors an Exceptionally Dedicated Court Employee

Court leaders in Connecticut’s Tolland Judicial District have demonstrated how naming a jury assembly room can be used to honor the life’s work of a dedicated court employee.  Last month family, friends, and coworkers of former Tolland Judicial District Chief Clerk Roy Smith Jr. gathered to honor his 32 years of service to the court.  The Journal Inquirer reports Smith began working in the courthouse when it opened in 1995. He saw the bare walls as opportunities to showcase the history of host city Rockville and Tolland County.  His efforts continued over many years and drew in people from many institutions, including the Vernon and Tolland historical societies, the New England Civil War Museum, and the family of singer Gene Pitney, a Rockville native.  One coworker recounted how Smith would be on the phone discussing items that would end up on courthouse walls. One time a colleague walked into the jury room to see a man working over what looked to be a dollhouse. It was Smith, working on a replica of the Maxwell family mansion that now houses Rockville General Hospital.

Arizona Raises Jury Duty Stipends

A recently enacted appropriations bill now funds variable-scale jury service stipends in the Grand Canyon State.  House Bill 2859 provides that sitting jurors can receive payments ranging from $40 per day to up to $300 per day depending on certification of the juror’s regular employment earnings.  Court administrators believe the new policy should have a significant impact on eliminating excuses for economic hardship (one of the most frequent excuses granted) and add more lower-income citizens and minorities to juries.

Summary Jury Trials

University of Nevada (Reno) Professor Monica K. Miller asked, “Have you published anything recently on summary jury trials?”  She also made this recommendation for our readers: E. R. Murphy, M. K. Miller, S. C. Marsh, and B. H. Bornstein (2021),  “Understanding the Summary Jury Trial: Perspectives from the Judiciary,” University of Illinois Law Review (online),113-29.

Update on New York and Arizona Legislation

The June 24 Jur-E Bulletin reported on proposed legislation in New York State to require court administrators to complete a study of the causes and effects of racial and ethnic disparities in jury selection pools and voir dire.   Thanks to Jessica Simard, the New York Statewide Jury Coordinator, we learn the legislation expired at the end of the current session on June 2.  And, with respect to Arizona House Bill No. 2413 aimed at restoring peremptory challenges in civil and criminal trials, the bill died when the legislature adjourned sine die last Saturday, June 25.  We thank Teri Munn, Senior Policy Analyst for the Arizona Supreme Court, for this information.