May 13

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2nd Federal Circuit Grapples with Whether Midtrial Closed Hearing Violates Public Trial Right

In Jordan v. Lamanna, Gigi Jordan was tried and convicted by a jury of manslaughter.  In her habeas corpus petition to federal courts, she claimed the trial judge denied her right to a public trial by closing the courtroom to the public for 15 minutes to conduct a hearing on the propriety of the defendant’s disseminating a website posting titled “The Inadmissible Truth,” which complained about the judge’s evidentiary rulings in the trial.  After a careful analysis of whether SCOTUS doctrines on closure of jury selection proceedings should apply to midtrial courtroom closings, the 2nd Circuit panel found Ms. Jordan’s habeas petition should be denied because there is no clear federal caselaw precedent to support the petition.

“Jury Administration During a Pandemic”

That’s the focus of an education program hosted by the Orange County (California) Jury Education and Management (JEM) Board. The 2022 JEM Conference will be conducted in-person on June 16 & 17, 2022 Registration and additional conference information are available here.

“The Effect of Jury Size on Trial Outcomes: Do Smaller Juries Perform as Well as 12-Person Juries?”

Such is the title of a piece in Plaintiff magazine by litigation consultant Carol Bauss.  She writes for an audience of plaintiff attorneys in California, which is one of 33 states currently using 12-person juries for civil trials.  She concludes, “Plaintiffs' attorneys, in particular, have a vested interest in promoting and protecting the integrity of jury trials. An extensive body of social science research lays out the benefits of larger, more diverse juries. Plaintiffs' attorneys benefit from the better deliberative process in larger juries. They best way to ensure the continuing integrity of the jury system is to continue with 12-person juries unless extenuating circumstances exist. And juries of eight or nine jurors are better than juries of six. All things being equal, justice is more likely to prevail with a 12-person jury.”

Florida Judges Being Trained in Changes to Caselaw in Capital Jury Trials

The Jur-E Bulletin has been reporting on the complications causing repeated jury selection delays in the capital sentencing trial of Parkland Florida mass murderer Nikolas Cruz. The Orlando Sentinel ($) reports three Broward judges will be taking a death penalty refresher course on May 19, including Elizabeth Scherer, who is presiding over the Cruz case.

Jury Diversity – Recognition of Its Importance Extends Beyond Courtrooms

The Cannes Lion is an international festival of creativity that has been observed annually for decades.  Modeled on the iconic Cannes Film Festival, it is a juried competition among designers and innovators in the fields of communications and advertising.  The Drum (a global media platform based in Europe) reports the 2022 festival concluded last week in Brazil where 25 jurors judged competitors and awarded prizes.  Thereafter, it was disclosed that there was only one Black and ten women on the jury.  In response, a collective of industry professionals have demanded that the selection process be changed to have a host country’s proportional diversity considered in the criteria. Gabriela Rodrigues, head of impact and culture at Soko, a Brazilian agency, said it was “urgent” that Cannes bosses rethink jury selection.  In response, festival chief exec Simon Cook recognized more work had to be done, saying, "We are committed to having more representative juries—but we are still far from where we want to be. This year, we have missed the mark on the selection of jurors in Brazil.  Moving forward we commit to reviewing our criteria, increasing transparency about in-country representation and ensuring juries at a country level are representative of society.  I’d like to thank you for writing to me and for raising awareness of this important issue. We are doing the work to view everything we do through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion and we’re committed to our juries being more representative of society, year on year.”  Reminiscent of jury selection concerns in our court systems?