June 17

final-jur-e headline

Washington State Supreme Court Applies Batson Standards to Police Arrest Tactics

The Jur-E Bulletin previously reported on the ground-breaking steps the Washington Supreme Court took in 2018 to establish detailed procedures for trial judges to apply the Batson doctrine to challenged peremptory strikes.  The procedural reforms included rules to ban any juror challenges based on "implicit, institutional, and unconscious" racial bias. If an "objective observer" could see race as a factor, the juror challenge should be allowed.  (At least 13 other states have made similar changes or are considering them.) The Seattle Times reports the court last week made its Batson standards on jury selection applicable to police seizures, ruling that an objective observer considering the legality of a seizure must be aware of law enforcement's history of bias and discrimination against people of color.

NCSC Launches Initiative to Gather Best Practices for Hybrid Court Proceedings

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) kicked off an initiative to develop guidelines and best practices that courts can use to effectively implement hybrid hearings into everyday practices. Up to 20 participating jurisdictions will receive grants to fund the cost of technology and technical assistance during the one-year pilot project.  Participating jurisdictions will collect and share hearing data from all modes (in-person, remote, and hybrid – such as in remote jury selection), permit remote observation of court hearings, and provide feedback on the effectiveness of hybrid hearing technology equipment. After an evaluation period, NCSC will release preliminary best practices and guidelines during December’s eCourts conference in Las Vegas.  Additional information will be available during a webinar on Thursday, June 23, at 2 p.m. ET.  NCSC Vice President David Slayton will provide a project overview and address questions about the application process.

Ireland Considers Applying Jury Trial Summoning Procedures to Civil Inquests

Civil inquisitorial juries are not common in the United States.  As shown in prior issues of the Jur-E Bulletin, California has a type of grand jury system for inquiring about governmental malfeasance.  An article in the June 9 Irish Examiner gives us an opportunity to learn more about civil jury inquests.  The Stardust Inquest has been going on in Ireland for decades.  It stems from a tragic fire that killed 48 persons in 1981at the Stardust Ballroom in Dublin.  Just this week, the fourteenth pre-inquest solicitation of fire witnesses took place in Dublin’s Coroner’s Court. The article describes a new bill in Parliament that would apply the jury summoning procedures typically used in criminal and civil jury trials to the eventual summoning of Stardust Inquest jurors.  The bill would require juror employers to pay the normal wages of any employees who become jurors in the expected, long-duration inquiry.

Military High Court Refuses to Apply SCOTUS Jury Unanimity Doctrine to Court-Marshal Jury Trials

In United States v. Col. Charles Pritchard & Lt. Col. Andrew J. Dial ($), the U.S. Court of Military Appeals addressed the question of whether a non-unanimous jury verdict against Andrew Dial should be vacated under the unanimity doctrine enunciated in Ramos v. Louisiana.  The appellate panel en banc refused to apply the Equal Protection Clause to the case, by first saying, “We adhere to the well-established view that ‘the military is a specialized society separate from civilian society’ which has ‘by necessity, developed laws and traditions of its own during its long history.’”  The court went further to declare it was most persuaded by the prosecution’s argument military jury “deliberations towards unanimous verdicts are likely to take longer to achieve, thereby keeping participants from their military duties for greater periods of time.”