As a general rule, courts frown upon sitting jurors who take their work home with them. For example, jurors can't go home and discuss the case with family members. In addition, jurors can't go home and conduct any independent research or experiments about the case. However, jurors in the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit can take home the indictment and read it on their own time at least according to the recent opinion in U.S. v. Esso.
Though we have doubts about the wisdom of the practice, and urge caution on district courts considering it, we conclude that, so long as jury deliberations have begun and appropriate cautionary instructions are provided, permitting the jury to take the indictment home overnight does not deprive a defendant of a fair trial.
Overall, I think this is a good idea. Although there is a risk that the juror will discuss the case at home (the jurors do this anyway), this has to be balanced with the more problematic issue of juror research. With more information, jurors are less likely to violate the court's rules on conducting independent research. This opinion by the court of appeals reflects a progressive view of how jurors should be treated--less like children and more like equal partners in the courtroom.
Just hours after the acquittal of baseball legend Roger Clemens, jurors gathered in the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille where they told defense attorney Rusty Hardin they were "outraged" by prosecutors' relentless attacks on the star defendant...to continue reading go here.
Lately, there has been an increase in the number of potential jurors questionning the prosecution of certain cases. I am not talking about the recent acquittals of John Edwards or Roger Clemens. Rather, I am speaking more about the growing trend of juror nullification, especially in cases involving small amounts of drugs. The issue has been the subject of reason legislation and in the news here, here and most recently here.
Abstract:: Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution mandates that “[t]he trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury.” Yet in modern America, bench trials have become a well-accepted feature of the contemporary federal criminal docket. Some of these bench trials occur because defendants, consulting their best interests, waive their right to a jury trial. This seems to be a sensible exception to Article III’s peremptory command. It would be paternalistic not to allow defendants to waive a constitutional requirement presumably created for their protection.
Yet, neither the English common law nor Founding-era practices permitted defendants prosecuted for serious criminal offenses the option of a bench trial. Federal bench trials violate both the Constitution’s text and its original understanding.
Nonetheless, in 1930, in Patton v. United States, a unanimous Supreme Court declared federal bench trials constitutionally permissible. Justice George Sutherland — who strongly believed that the sole goal of constitutional interpretation is to discern and effectuate the Constitution’s original meaning — wrote the Patton opinion. True to form, Sutherland’s Patton opinion maintained that defendants’ jury waivers and federal bench trials for serious offenses were consistent with Article III’s original understanding. However, Justice Sutherland got his history wrong. This Article joins the long list of books and articles questioning the Supreme Court’s use of history as a basis for its decisions. More importantly, by studying how evolving principles of constitutional policy transformed the interpretation of Article III, Section 2’s clear text through a mechanism known as “motivated reasoning,” this Article reveals how evolving principles of constitutional policy have become the basis for constitutional law even in the hands of dedicated originalists.
This Article is a study of the problem that motivated reasoning presents for the practice of originalist jurisprudence, and to that extent, it is an argument for the desirability of a forthright jurisprudence of “living constitutionalism.”