Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Juror Jailed for Refusing to Take the Oath

Here is a story about a juror in federal court who spent one day in jail because he refused to take the oath.

News and Observer: Stubborn juror in Grand Rapids gets night in jail

Friday, July 26, 2013

Juror Fined

Here is a story about a juror who was fined for cursing.  Apparently, the juror was not very happy about being selected for jury duty.  Ultimately, the juror's rant led to her removal by the judge but not before she was fined $500.

ABA Journal: Juror who cursed at being selected is axed from panel and fined ...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Profiting from Jury Service: Zimmerman Juror Inks Book Deal

Media outlets are reporting that at least one juror from the Zimmerman trial has inked a book deal.  Apparently, this juror is not so concerned about her anonymity or privacy.   As some may recall, the trial judge in this case not only sequestered the jurors but also at least for the time being preserved their anonymity. 

Some may question the need for anonymity when one of the jurors is looking to write a book about her experience.  Of course, she is not the first to try and make jury service profitable.  Other examples of jurors penning books after serving on high-profile trials can be found here and here.

The real issue with jurors becoming authors is that they might be more worried about selling their experience to others than finding the truth especially in a high profile case like this one.  This is even more of a concern with anonymous jurors who have less oversight and accountability than traditional jurors.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Role of the Jury in the George Zimmerman Trial

The Atlantic magazine has an article by Professor Ferguson examining the role of the jury in the George Zimmerman trial.  As most are aware, George Zimmerman is on trial for the death of Trayvon Martin.  Prior posts about this case can be found here and here.  Professor Ferguson, who has previously published articles on juries, writes that:

Many times it is just not possible to find out what really happened. That's why we have juries. In fact, while emotionally unsatisfying, the burdens of proof are supposed to lessen the burden of judgment for jurors. Instead of being weighted with the sometimes-impossible task of figuring out what really happened, jurors are asked only to measure the evidence produced against the standard of proof...

To read Professor Ferguson's article in full go here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Military vs. Civilian Juries

Here is an interesting article that highlights a few differences between military and civilian juries.  This article is especially relevant in light of MAJ Nidal Malik Hasan's upcoming death penalty trial which is scheduled to begin tomorrow.  As some may recall, MAJ Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and injuring 30 others during a shooting rampage at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009.
For prior blog posts about military juries go here and here.

Policymic:  5 Ways a Military Trial Is Different From a Civilian One
Anyone who has had the joy of receiving a jury summons knows how the process goes, and everyone else has a basic understanding: under the Constitution, American citizens have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers. One of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence was about King George III "depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury." Juries usually consist of 12 jurors.

Military juries, however, are a different beast. Members are typically only commissioned military officers, though the accused has the option of requesting enlisted personnel in the member pool. A military jury does not need to be made up of 12 members; it can range from as few as three to as great as a dozen depending on the type of court-martial. In a capital case like the Fort Hood shooting, where the death penalty is sought, the jury must consist of 12 members (this is a relatively new requirement, only added to the UCMJ via an NDAA provision in the last decade). Hasan's panel will have 12 members and four alternates, and will consist of officers who outrank him.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Juries and the Criminal Constitution: New Law Review Article

Professor Meghan Ryan of SMU Law School has an article entitled Juries and the Criminal Constitution coming out in the Alabama Law Review.  

Abstract: Judges are regularly deciding criminal constitutional issues based on changing societal values. For example, they are determining whether police officer conduct has violated society’s "reasonable expectations of privacy" under the Fourth Amendment and whether a criminal punishment fails to comport with the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" under the Eighth Amendment. Yet judges are not trained to assess societal values, nor do they, in assessing them, ordinarily consult data to determine what those values are. Instead, judges turn inward, to their own intuitions, morals, and values, to determine these matters. But judges’ internal assessments of societal standards are likely not representative of society’s morals and values — because judges, themselves, are ordinarily not representative of the communities that they serve. Juries, on the other hand, are constitutionally required to be drawn from a representative cross-section of the community. Further, because juries are composed of several different individuals, they may draw on a broader range of knowledge and expertise in making their decisions. The historically trusted body to protect defendants from an overbearing government, juries, rather than judges, should be the ones empowered to determine these criminal constitutional moral matters

h/tip Crim. Prof Blog