US Courts Celebrate Juror Appreciation Week
During the first week of May, the U.S. Courts celebrate Juror Appreciation Week. In observance of that event, two educational videos about federal jury service are available.
The first is an animated jury overview and informs viewers what to expect if called for jury duty. It explains the jury system’s roots in the U.S. Constitution; how jurors are selected or excused; the trial process as seen by jurors; and dos and don’ts of juror contact, such as use of social media during a trial. The second video asks average American citizens what they think about federal jury service, and why it is important to them.
Please take a moment to fill out a very brief survey (maximum of 8 questions) if you are a judge or are very famailiar with judicial practices regarding interaction with juries in your jurisdiction. The survey is designed to learn about the interaction that judges have with citizens who have been summoned for jury service, whether or not they have been ultimately selected to serve on a jury.
Poor Time Estimation Forces Mistrial
On May 1, 2017, the Supreme Court of Georgia rendered a decision in Laguerre v. State. This is an interesting case because factually it demonstrates how a minor error can have a significant impact on jurors and the justice system. The Verlaine Laguerre trial began on December 11, 2014 on the charges of murder and related offenses. The jury panel was told that the attorneys estimated that the trial would last seven to nine days. After several days of trial, it became apparent that the trial would take much longer than initially expected. The court also learned that several jurors had prepaid vacations for the holidays so the trial would need to be continued well into January, 2015. The court had a difficult choice of either declaring a mistrial or risking that the juror’s memories of the evidence they already heard may fade during a lengthy continuance. Over the defendant’s objection, the court declared a mistrial. The defendant claimed that a retrial would violate his rights pursuant to the Double Jeopardy Clause of the US and Georgia Constitutions. The Supreme Court of Georgia disagreed and will allow a retrial.
On April 29, 2017, Breaking News reported that there was some confusion after a jury was sworn in Letterkenny Circuit Court in Ireland. The prosecution noticed that a juror had handwritten her profession as “barrister” on one of the court documents. Barristers are prohibited by law from serving. However, when the court questioned the juror about this issue, it was learned that she was a barista.
Former Canadian Jurors Call for National Counseling Program
CBC News reported on May 3, 2017 that a dozen former jurors who served on juries that considered gruesome evidence wrote to the Federal Justice Minister in support of a national juror counseling program. This is an interesting story because the push to create juror counseling programs in Canada continues to be led by former jurors.
Kansas Legislature Addressing Shielding Juror’s Names and Adresses
The Associated Press reported on April 30, 2017, that the Kansas Legislature is addressing the issue of how much information about jurors should be public. Initially, the Kansas District Judges Association sought to keep both the names and addresses secret. However, after negotiations with the Kansas Press Association they agreed to reveal the names but not the address. Bills have already passed both the Kansas House and Senate which conflict with the compromise agreement but it is believed that agreement can be effectuated in committee before the legislation is finalized by the legislature.