Juror Utilization Article
Quartz published an article on April 10, 2017 about juror utilization. Alan Krueger, a prominent Princeton economist and former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers was summoned to jury service in New Jersey for a criminal case, along with 100 other prospective jurors. The case “settled” and Mr. Krueger used Twitter to vent his frustrations about what he perceived as a very inefficient system. The article does a good job of describing the issues related to juror utilization and Paula Hannaford, director of the Center for Jury Studies, is quoted multiple times.
Permanent Exemptions for People with Qualifying Disabilities
An avid reader is looking for statutes, court rules or policies that would allow a jury manager to provide a disabled person with a permanent exemption upon request of the person, and with appropriate documentation. As this is a very sensitive subject, they would like to see if any states have this type of authority in their statutes, court rules or policies and get a copy of that language. If you have this information, please email it to Greg Hurley firstname.lastname@example.org at it will be forwarded to the requestor.
The Donald Fell Retrial
On April 10, 2017 U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford ordered 3,000 names to be selected from the Vermont District Court master jury list for the retrial of Donald Fell. The prospective jurors will be asked to fill out a juror questionnaire in preparation for an August 21, 2017 trial date. Mr. Fell was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 2005 for a murder which occurred in 2000. His case was overturned based on juror misconduct because a juror had visited the scene of the carjacking, which was the first in the sequence of alleged crimes. The case received extensive publicity in Vermont.
WNEP TV reported on April 12, 2017 that juror Deb Williams was devastated that defendant Dustin Briggs’ sentence was commuted from a death sentence to a life sentence. Ms. Williams served on the jury that heard the Briggs case in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. She said:
"Everything that we the jury went through was just unreal. What we saw, what we heard, what he did, and this new judge's ruling is, I just don't understand it. I don't understand it at all."
The verdict form in the penalty phase was flawed which caused the commutation.
Juries as Protection from Collateral Consequences
Gabriel "Jack" Chin of the School of Law at the University of California, Davis and John Ormonde are publishing an article titled, Infamous Misdemeanors and the Grand Jury Clause in a forthcoming edition of the Minnesota Law Review. The abstract to the article states:
Under an overlooked body of constitutional law, many more federal offenses must be prosecuted by grand jury indictment than is now the practice. Current rules provide that felonies must be prosecuted by grand jury indictment, but misdemeanor charges may be based on a prosecutor’s information, or even a “ticket” issued by a law enforcement officer. However, serious consequences fall on people convicted of federal misdemeanors, including deportation, sex offender or other criminal registration, ineligibility for public benefits, and loss of civil rights. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Supreme Court held in a series of cases, never overruled, that to charge an infamous misdemeanor required a grand jury indictment. The Court held that infamous offenses were ones potentially resulting in stigmatizing punishments degrading the offender’s status, indicating that the person is less than a full member of the community. These include corporal punishment, incarceration in a prison or penitentiary (as opposed to a jail), loss of civil rights or imposition of civil disabilities, and convictions implying moral turpitude. Many federal misdemeanors carry these consequences. And federal misdemeanors are much more likely to be dismissed without trial than felonies. More thoughtful evaluation of misdemeanor cases before charge would often terminate cases which wind up being dismissed after charge. As a result, thousands of Americans would avoid the stigma of a criminal record where it is unwarranted. This is what the framers of the Constitution intended.