Approximately thirteen million U.S. citizens, mostly Latinos and other people of color, are denied the right to serve on juries due to English language requirements and despite the possibility (and centuries-old tradition) of juror language accommodation. This exclusion results in the underrepresentation of racial minorities on juries and has a detrimental impact on criminal defendants, the perceived legitimacy of the justice system, and citizen participation in democracy. Yet, it has been virtually ignored. This Article examines the constitutionality of juror language requirements, focusing primarily on equal protection and the fair cross section requirement of the Sixth Amendment. Finding the existing juridical framework to be wanting, this Article introduces Critical Originalism — a melding of antisubordination deconstruction principles of Critical Race Theory with the interpretive methodology of Originalism Theory — as a new method of ascertaining and capturing the discriminatory intent behind a statute or procedural rule.
Judge Amy J. St. Eve, Judge Charles P. Burns and Michael A. Zuckerman
This Article presents the results of a survey of jurors in federal and state court on their use of social media during their jury service. We began surveying federal jurors in 2011 and reported preliminary results in 2012; since then, we have surveyed several hundred more jurors, including state jurors, for a more complete picture of juror attitudes toward social media. Our results support the growing consensus that jury instructions are the most effective tool to mitigate the risk of juror misconduct through social media. We conclude with a set of recommended best practices for using a social-media instruction.
Abstract: This note argues that, implied within the Sixth Amendment’s Impartial Jury Clause, a criminal defendant enjoys the guaranteed right to waive a jury trial in favor of a bench trial. In State v. Bazile, the Louisiana Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution does not offer a criminal defendant the absolute right to a bench trial. Bazile was denied the chance to have his case heard in front of a judge because of a provision in the state’s constitution enforcing a deadline by which a criminal defendant must waive a jury trial in favor of a bench trial. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized certain circumstances in which a criminal defendant would benefit from a bench trial. In U.S. v. Singer, the Court held that if a defendant is able to show a compelling reason that a trial by jury would not render an impartial trial, the denial of his proffered waiver violates his constitutional right to an impartial trial. In the present case, Bazile is charged with the murder of his wife, and he is facing the possibility of extensive imprisonment. In a trial of this notoriety, it is reasonable to expect that potential jurors would form biased opinions before hearing the facts of the case and the prosecution’s evidence. Ultimately, Bazile was decided incorrectly because a compelling reason is inherent in Bazile’s case, and he should benefit from a trial before a judge instead of a jury if it ensures an impartial trial.
It has been an obsession of modern civil procedure to design ways to reveal more before trial about what will happen during trial. Litigants today, as a matter of course, are made to preview the evidence they will use. This practice is celebrated because standard theory says it should induce the parties to settle; why incur the expenses of trial, if everyone knows what will happen? Rarely noted, however, is one complication: The impact of previewing the evidence is intertwined with how well the parties know their future audience — that is, the judge or the jury who will be the finder of fact at trial. Both theory and policy have focused narrowly on previewing the evidence, while barely noticing the complementary effect of previewing the audience. How this interplay might affect leading theories of settlement has yet to be articulated. This Essay begins to fill the gap.
This Essay also presents preliminary empirical findings from a policy experiment in the federal courts, arising from recent reforms in civil procedure. These data suggest that the current use of evidentiary previews may be driving a wedge between trials by jury and trials by judge. Trials are “vanishing” indeed — but not all trials vanish alike. Preview policies may be accelerating a decline in bench trials more than in jury trials. New policy concerns emerge from both the data and the theoretical analysis, and this Essay explores how an awareness of asymmetric preview effects might inform current debates about procedural values and policy design.
ABSTRACT: In this article I discuss the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions in the jury vetting cases of R v Yumnu, R v Emms, and R v Davey. I suggest that while the Supreme Court’s ruling goes a long way toward eliminating the concerns associated with jury vetting, there is a disconnect between the Court’s description of the jury selection process and how counsel tend to think about jury selection in criminal trials. While counsel are limited in their ability to influence the jury selection process, the Court might nevertheless have considered whether a full ban on jury vetting was needed to combat the risk – both real and perceived – that the Crown might act unethically during the jury selection process. I also examine whether the Court’s comments about the essential and inalienable features of the jury contribute to our understanding of the right to trial by jury enshrined in s 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Abstract: The author proposes the use of a simple "range voting" method by juries in which jurors would rate or score on a scale of zero to ten (or some other specified scale) the evidence presented by the parties at trial. The jury’s verdict would thus consist of a numerical value, either the average or the sum total of all the individual scores, which the author refers to as a "range verdict." Range voting by juries thus produces a numerical verdict, a range verdict, consisting of an average value or total sum, and a plaintiff or other moving party would prove his case as a matter of law only if the average value or sum total of the jury’s collective score exceeded some critical threshold value. In addition, the author explains how range voting solves several problems endemic to juries, including holdouts, strategic jurors, and ignorant or partially informed jurors. Lastly, the author also explains how range voting improves jury accuracy and examines the relation between his proposed model of range voting in juries and the diversity prediction theorem in mathematics or "wisdom of crowds" effect.
Julia Davis of the University of South Australia - School of Law
Brit. J. Criminol. (2012) 52, 93-112
Abstract: This paper reports the findings of an innovative method of ascertaining public opinion about sentencing — namely using jurors in actual cases to explore both the appropriateness of the sentence imposed in the juror’s trial and more general views about sentencing levels. Contrasting images of public opinion emerged: a punitive public in relation to general perceptions of leniency and a more merciful public in relation to individual cases. The extent and reasons for this dichotomy are explored, as are differences in levels of satisfaction for different offense types.
ABSTRACT: This article tracks the rise and fall of criminal jury in colonial India through official and non-official debates, discussions and interventions. The discussion on criminal juries in the Anglo-American system has typically focused on the division of legal labour between judge and jury. In colonial India, this conventional difference between ‘law’ and ‘fact’ were shaped by notions of belonging to a different race, religion and language. These were frequently articulated as the story of the ‘unreliable’ juror or the ‘religious’ native who feared eternal damnation. From the jurors who were allegedly intoxicated by the publicity over the infamous Nanavati trial to women jurors who claimed to be followed on the way home from court, to the religious Brahmin juror who would not swear an oath, the story of the criminal jury is peopled with anxieties over undesirable forms of influence, that impinge on legal impartiality. Using the criminal jury as a lens, I look at the claims of universal legal reform as particularly lending themselves to contestations over sovereignty.
Abstract: Electronic jurors pose new twists to an old problem. With emerging technology in mobile devices, social media, and internet research, juror misconduct exists in new shapes and forms. Many jurisdictions have made attempts to curb electronic misconduct by modifying standard jury instructions and confiscating juror cell phones. Some judges have implemented jury instructions which remind jurors to refrain from communicating about the case and conducting on-line research. However, their efforts fall short. In previous literature, practitioners, students and a few scholars have offered suggestions on modifying jury instructions to better inform jurors of prohibited misconduct. To address the overall electronic juror problem, this Article explains, from a unique judicial vantage point, that the jury system should be improved by better educating judges on emerging technology and social trends; improving jury instructions to specify changing mobile devices, social media sites and internet research with clear reasons for the prohibited conduct; encouraging attorneys to address social media and juror internet use; and engaging active jurors. This Article’s most critical recommendations include encouraging juror questioning of witnesses and adopting the Author’s specific proposed jury instruction, which identifies a detailed and comprehensive list of social media sites and internet search tools, along with compelling reasons for refraining from misconduct.
Here is an interesting article that examines the practice of judges talking to jurors post-trial. This article finds that the practice may be okay in foreign countries but there is the potential for problems here in this country.
Finally, the evidence has all been heard, the lawyers have given closing arguments to the jurors, and now it is up to the trial judge; it is her turn. Of course, she will instruct the jury on the law, no question about that. But this was a very lengthy multiple defendant trial. That experienced, savvy trial judge is no doubt tempted to go beyond stating to the jurors the mere legal rules (the usual jury instructions). She might also prefer to talk with them about the evidence: comment on particular items, summarize the overall evidence and the arguments put forth by the lawyers on both sides. After all, we all want to be certain that these lay people understand just what this case was all about. And who better to tell them about the evidence than the judge? If this judge sits in the United States, she had better resist that temptation. Otherwise, she is very likely to be reversed on appeal, perhaps even disciplined. But, elsewhere in the common law world, that judge would not be at all concerned about going beyond the giving of jury instructions. In fact, if she does not, she is likely to be reversed on appeal, perhaps even disciplined.