Sept 9

final-jur-e headline

Judge Reverses Course to Allow News Media to Attend Jury Selection in Trial of Trump Organization

In July, Bronx (New York) trial judge Doris Gonzalez barred reporters from being present in the upcoming criminal trial against the Trump Organization.  However, she recently reversed her barring order.  Yahoo News reported:

Bronx Justice Doris M. Gonzalez, reading her opinion in court, said, "closure of the courtroom to the press means closure of the courtroom to the public and implicates statutory and constitutional concerns… jury selection is an integral part of the trial.”  Earlier in the hearing, Gonzalez indicated that she feels jurors don’t need to be hidden away from the public when they answer questions about their beliefs in court. "It's the Bronx. Bronxites don’t have an issue telling their truth."

Sheriff Deputies’ Mask Messaging Causes Conviction Reversal

In Everett Smith v. State, Maryland‘s highest court reversed an assault and child abuse conviction because deputy sheriffs in the trial courtroom wore face masks (required by an administrative court order) that displayed an American flag with a blue horizontal line commonly known to be a pro-law enforcement message.  The court opinion stated, “In a criminal trial, the display of a pro-law enforcement message in the courtroom is inappropriate.”  After the case was reported in the news media, The Washington Post ($) published a letter to the editor by Joseph Capone criticizing the court ruling.  He wondered, “Why the appeals court apparently presumed that the jurors were incapable of deciding the case solely on the evidence, in contravention of the trial judge’s instructions and the oath they swore.”

Isn’t Location of Robbery a Question of Fact for a Jury?

In Kelly v. United States, a jury convicted Mr. Kelly of a robbery that occurred on a subway train in neighboring Maryland.  On appeal, Kelly asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to reverse the conviction because, among several reasons, the trial judge did not instruct the jury that their verdict must include a finding of where the offense occurred.  The defendant relied on the SCOTUS doctrine announced in Apprendi v. New Jersey that all elements of a crime must be determined by a jury.  The D.C. high court found the absence of that instruction to be harmless error because a statute bestowed jurisdiction on  the D.C. Superior Court whenever stolen property is brought into the District from elsewhere and the trial record made clear that the defendant was arrested in D.C. with the stolen items.

DOJ to Fund Research on Effects of Peremptory Strikes Abolition in Arizona

The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice last month announced awards of $2.7 million to discern ways to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.  Recipients of the awards include Arizona State University to assess how that state’s recent elimination of peremptory challenges affects jury selection and racial diversity on juries.