This week the Illinois House passed SB 3075 which, if signed into law, will reduce the number of civil jurors from 12 to 6. The bill also increases juror pay from $25 a day to $50 a day. The bill was sponsored by Representative Kelly Burke and is supported by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.
Apparently, there has been some follow up investigation on the Darnell Dockett jury story. As some will recall, media outlets were reporting earlier this week about Dockett's so-called live tweeting from the jury room. I also did a post on it.
However, there is some question about whether his tweets were entirely true. According to the article below, Docket did not have jury duty in either Maricopa County, AZ or Miami-Dade County, FL. Also, the picture he allegedly tweeted from the courthouse has been traced to an earlier 2013 photo from Skagit County, WA. If you look closely, you can see the Washington state flag in the background.
Abstract: The thesis explores decisions from the European Court of Human Rights and the Norwegian Supreme Court from 2009 to 2013 regarding what is considered as sufficient reasoning in jury cases. The study illustrates how, in a specific case, the national court is influenced by the ECHR, and how in turn the ECHR is influenced by reasoning in decisions by national courts.
The attorneys for alleged Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have filed another change of venue motion. According to defense counsel,
[t]he nature and extent of the impact of the Marathon bombings and related events and the pretrial publicity engendered by those events require a change of venue if Mr. Tsarnaev is to receive the fair trial by a panel of impartial, indifferent jurors guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
A similar request was denied in October. In addition to the change of venue motion, Tsarnaev's attorneys have requested that their allotment of peremptory challenges be increased from 20 to 30. Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled to start in January.
Defendants are entitled to new trials, where: 1) failure to apprise counsel about the specific contents of a substantive note from a deliberating jury violates the fundamental tenets of CPL 310.30 and qualifies as a mode of proceedings error; 2) the parties must be given meaningful notice of a jury's request for substantive information, and deliberating jurors must receive a meaningful response to their inquiry, neither of which occurred here; and 3) the deficiencies could have been easily avoided by making a record of compliance within People v. O'Rama guidelines
Two attorneys from the firm of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach have written a very good article on jurors and social media. Among other things, the article provides an excellent overview of the current state of the law.
Wendy Heath and Bruce Grannemann ponder how video image size in the courtroom is related to juror decision-making about your case. They discuss how image size interacts with image strength, defendant emotions, and the defendant/victim relationship. Trial consultants Jason Barnes and Brian Patterson team up for one response to this article and Ian McWilliams pens another. This is a terrific article to help you reconsider the role of image size in that upcoming trial.
Sarah Malik and Jessica Salerno have some original research on bias against gays in the courtroom. This is simple and powerful research that illustrates just how moral outrage drives our judgments against LGBT individuals (especially when they are juveniles). Stan Brodsky and Christopher Coffey team up for one response and Alexis Forbes pens a second. While these findings make intuitive sense, they may also highlight something you've not previously considered.
Lynne Williams is a trial consultant who lives in the cold and snowy state of Maine. She is also skilled in picking juries for political trials and a gifted writer as she describes the important differences between picking juries for civil disobedience cases and antiwar protestor cases. This article not only explains what Ms. Williams does, but why and how she does what she does. It's like lifting up the top of her head and peering inside her brain.
Mary Wood, Jacklyn Nagle and Pamela Bucy Pierson bring us this qualitative examination of self-care in lawyers. They talk about workplace stress and depression and substance abuse. Been there? Are there? Some kinds of self-care may work better than others but--what's important is that you actually do some self-care! Andy Sheldon and Alison Bennett share their reactions to this article.
Adam Shniderman knows neuroscience evidence can be incredibly alluring. This new study shows us that unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) it is not universally alluring. Here's a shocker: the impact of the neuroscience evidence is related to the individual listener's prior attitudes, values and beliefs about the topic. Robert Galatzer-Levy and Ekaterina Pivovarova respond with their thoughts on the issues raised.
Law and Neuroscience by Owen Jones, Jeffrey Schall, and Francis Shen has just published and is as long as any Harry Potter tale at more than 800 pages. Rita Handrich takes a look at this new textbook and reference manual which covers more than you ever knew existed on the wide-ranging field of neurolaw (which is a whole lot more than the "my brain made me do it" defense).
Roy Bullis is back to talk to us about the wide language gulf between attorneys and their social science expert witnesses. Just because you are talking, doesn't mean you are actually communicating. How do you talk so your expert knows what you mean?
It's cold outside so stay inside and read this new issue of The Jury Expert! A summary of what you will find in this issue with a special thanks to Lynne Williams and congratulations to Richard Gabriel!
We hope you enjoy this issue of The Jury Expert. We are always interested in any suggestions you may have for future issues or reactions to our publication in general. Just click on my name below and send me an email.
For nearly eighty years, courts have offered stirring rhetoric about how prosecutors must not strike foul blows in pursuit of convictions. Yet while appellate courts are often quick to condemn prosecutorial trial misconduct, they rarely provide any meaningful remedy. Instead, courts routinely affirm convictions, relying on defense counsel's failure to object or concluding that the misconduct was merely harmless error. Jerome Frank summed up the consequences of this dichotomy best when he noted that the courts' attitude of helpless piety in prosecutorial misconduct cases breeds a deplorably cynical attitude toward the judiciary.
Cognitive bias research illuminates the reasons for, and solutions to, the gap between rhetoric and reality in prosecutorial misconduct cases. This article is the first to explore theories of cognition that help explain the frequency of prosecutorial misconduct and the ways that it likely affects jurors and reviewing judges more than they realize. As a result, the article advocates for sweeping changes to the doctrine of harmless error and modest changes to the doctrine of plain error as applied in prosecutorial misconduct cases. These solutions will help courts abandon their attitude of helpless piety, clarify the currently ambiguous law on what behavior constitutes prosecutorial misconduct, encourage defense counsel to raise timely objections to misconduct, and reverse convictions when misconduct may well have affected the outcome of the case but affirm when the misconduct was trivial.
Previously, I blogged about the juror dishonesty case, Warger v. Shauers, that is currently before the Supreme Court. Professor Sherry Colb of Cornell, pictured above, has recently written a brief article offering her own opinion on the case. Her article also has a prediction on how the Supreme Court might rule.