May 20

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New Jersey Court Publish Jury Selection Reforms for Public Comment

As reported last year in the Jur-E Bulletin, the New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Andujar called for a Judicial Conference on Jury Selection to make recommendations to improve the jury selection process in New Jersey by expanding the pool of individuals summoned and eligible to serve as jurors; supporting qualified individuals in serving as jurors; reducing the effects of purposeful discrimination and all forms of bias, including implicit bias, in jury processes; and increasing attorney involvement in jury selection. The Conference Committee has now published their recommended reforms—including a transition from judge-led to attorney-conducted voir dire and a new court rule designed to reduce the effects of bias in the exercise of peremptory challenges.  Pursuant to this notice, readers can comment on the committee’s recommendations by June 10, 2022.

New California Jury Orientation Video

California’s Judicial Council has recently released a new juror orientation video and accompanying vignette on jury service history.  They are available here.

NCSC Hosting a Webinar on Jury Diversity & Its Importance to Public Confidence in Courts

A webinar on Wednesday, May 25, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EST), will review behavioral science research on how a group’s composition affects its dynamics and performance.  Distinguished panelists will also discuss the ways in which jury diversity adds to the deliberative process and bolsters confidence in our court system.  Registration is open.  The webinar is the first of five in the “Toolbox for Understanding and Solving the Diverse Jury Problem.”

Voir Dire in Trial Against Cybersecurity Lawyer Discloses Concerns About Law Firm Culture

The National Law Journal ($) reports on the false-statements case against former Perkins Coie partner and Democratic campaign lawyer Michael Sussman.  Jury selection was completed this week with revealing details about what the judge, trial lawyers, and prospective jurors are thinking about.  Voir dire featured questions not only about the 2016 election, but also attorney ethics, law firm billing records, and prospective jurors' views of Big Law firms.  Author Andrew Goudsward described one prospective juror having a negative impression of lawyers, believing that they "just try to win cases" and don't "care about what's fair." She was struck for cause after voicing concern that her support for Hillary Clinton, and the fact that they both attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, might make it difficult for her to be an impartial juror.  Another prospective juror had similar issues with Big Law, believing that major firms focus on business goals at the expense of pursuing justice. She remained in the pool after assuring the judge that she could put those feelings aside if called to serve on the panel.  A handful of prospective jurors had ties to the legal industry, either working as lawyers in private practice or in government or having non-attorney positions at law firms.  All prospective jurors with legal experience said they were confident that they could set aside any prior knowledge about the legal profession and decide the case based only on the evidence presented in court.

Australia Gets More Serious About Juror Misconduct

Juries Victoria is a court-based enterprise that manages the jury system in Victoria State, Australia.  It is currently focussing on recent media reports of mistrials in two prominent cases (a murder trial was abandoned due to juror intimidation and a rape trial was discontinued because of juror misconduct).  Paul Dore, juries commissioner for Victoria, has published an examination of common motivations behind juror misconduct and how Juries Victoria handles instances of juror misconduct and intimidation.  He reflects on why these incidents occur, how they can be minimized, and the approach taken by Juries Victoria.  His proposals for managing juror misconduct are available here.