Here are 19 appellate decisions from 2012-13 regarding jurors and jury selection that you should know about. (Via Prezi; great thanks to creator T. Smith.)
I found it while I was exploring the online app Prezi, in my search for a way for medium competent laypeople to create attractive and compelling charts (e.g., good timelines, etc.) for use in jury trials. I am open to and grateful for your suggestions.
Meanwhile, brush up on these jury-related appellate rulings. Very interesting stuff. I am particularly appalled that a trial judge anywhere in America would, after finding a prima facie basis for a Batson challenge would then exclude defense counsel from the room while hearing the prosecutor’s justification for the peremptory challenge, followed by a refusal to share with defense counsel what those justifications were, nor his reasons for denying the Batson challenge. Um. Yeah. Wow. I get that the black robe can sometimes do some odd things to the wearer, but, even so, wow.
I was also struck by the Florida burglary case. Judges who believe that a juror with deeply rooted issues can be rehabilitated under public, high-pressure questioning are fooling themselves in my opinion. That it survived on appeal was difficult to believe.
Thanks for the comment, William. I would only add that it isn’t just the judges– we are all complicit in this farce. In my opinion, what really needs to happen is that the statutes on the procedures for jury selection should be amended to reflect what we know about human psychology in the 21st Century instead of continued reverence to 19th Century fictions. The procedures should lay out standards that would provide several bases for excusing a prospective juror for the presence of relevant bias and pre-disposition, and the last one would say, “If it’s close, cut the person loose.” (Well, not that exact wording, but that’s the idea.) How many times have judges declined a cause challenge for someone who clearly has a relevant bias, saying, “Counsel, that’s what peremptories are for”? Too many. If the statutes would actually encourage and instruct judges that the standard should be flipped — boot someone if there’s a reasonable question vs. keep someone unless it is utterly proven beyond question that this person is an intransigent outlier — then judges would act accordingly. I personally would even be willing to sacrifice some peremptories in exchange for a cause challenge system that is based in the real world.
Every day that attorneys go along with these fictions, argue in jury selection that “He said he would keep an open mind, so he should stay” if the juror is favorable to us but argue against that exact proposition if the juror is unfavorable, ask the judges to strike testimony and “instruct the jury to disregard” without the slightest realization that counsel just highlighted the bad testimony and ensured greater juror attention to it, don’t lobby state legislatures to amend the procedures to bring the statutes in line with what we know about the human brain in 2014 that we did not know in the mid-1800’s, and keep bowing to the fictions and fallacies enshrined in our procedural laws . . . we are all to blame. (Myself included!)
What do you think?