Boston College of Law Explores Trends in Jury Selection Reforms
The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy this month hosted a symposium: “Peremptory Challenges: Exploring Court Efforts Nationwide to Combat Racial Bias.” BC Law magazine author Sean Doolittle (not the former ace National League relief pitcher) reports that the panelists (Pamela Gates, associate presiding judge for the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County; David Lowy, associate justice for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Lila Silverstein, an appellate public defender from the Washington Appellate Project in Seattle; and Steven Van Dyke, staff attorney for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services) gave an overview of the status of peremptory strike procedures across the country and some of the discriminatory abuses that need to be righted.
Michigan Bill Would Eliminate Paper in Jury-Summoning Process
Senate Bill 1175 was introduced last week. It proposes numerous changes to Michigan’s summoning processes, including:
Until September 30, 2023, the jury board may use electronic and mechanical devices in carrying out its duties under this chapter. Beginning October 1, 2023, a court or clerk of the court may use a computerized, electronic, and mechanical process within a jury management software or other software in carrying out its duties under this chapter. Until September 30, 2023, the jury board may use the historic method of preparing separate slips of paper for the second jury list and drawing slips from a jury board box to determine a panel or array of jurors. Beginning October 1, 2023, the circuit court administrator or clerk of the circuit court may use the historic manual method of preparing separate slips of paper for the second jury list and drawing slips from a container to determine the jurors to send the juror qualifications questionnaire to or the jurors to summon.
Wisconsin Jury Won’t Visit Parade Route of Fatal Car Rampage
On YouTube readers can see Milwaukee’s ABC-WISN 12 News’s coverage of preparations for the jury trial of Darrell Brooks. He is accused of driving through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin—killing six persons and injuring dozens. Jury selection is scheduled to begin next week with 340 citizens having been summoned. The prosecution scrapped plans to have the eventual jury examine the parade route in person, but the government hopes the jury will be able to see the defendant’s SUV.
Federal Circuit Rules Judge Cannot Examine Juror’s Electronic Devices
On July 29, the Jur-E Bulletin reported on the legal challenge being waged by former Cincinnati City Council member Alexander “P.G.” Sittenfeld, who was convicted of bribery charges earlier in the summer. The defense team claimed a juror “left a trail of breadcrumbs” and urged the federal trial judge to conduct a Remmer hearing to compel a forensic examination of juror telephone communications to uncover a juror’s comments made on Facebook expressing hate for persons who are employed like Mr. Sittenfeld. The trial judge denied the request. Mr. Sittenfeld has since then appealed and sought a writ of mandamus from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In the case captioned In re: Sittenfeld, the appellate panel last week found the core issue to be: “What legal authority empowers a court to order a juror to provide his or her cellphone, computer, or other electronic devices to the court for it to conduct—or permit a party to conduct—a search or forensic examination of the juror’s devices? Because a court’s inherent or statutory authority in conducting a Remmer hearing does not include an unlimited, inquisitorial power to order jurors to surrender their personal possessions, such as their electronic devices, or to divulge their passwords, we hold that the district court had no power to order a forensic examination of the juror’s device.” Later in the lengthy opinion, the court stated, “We hold that in conducting the Remmer hearing, a court cannot order a search of a juror’s belongings—electronic or otherwise. For example, a court conducting a Remmer hearing cannot order a search of a juror’s home, office, car, or person; cannot order a juror to turn out her purse, pockets, or wallet, cannot order a juror to submit to a blood test, a urine test, a breath test, or a DNA test. And, most pertinent here, in conducting a Remmer hearing, a court cannot order a juror to hand over his or her cellphone, computer, or other electronic devices, nor order a search or forensic examination of a juror’s devices. If a judge suspects that juror misconduct constitutes a crime, that is a matter for a prosecutor to investigate, not a judge.”