Vocabulary > Justice > USA > Jury
The Arizona Republic
a majority of the nine men and three women on
the Los Angeles Superior Court jury
the jury's findings on the
10-count indictment against...
members of the jury
in the jury box
on a jury
jury pool / potential jurors
jury selection / screening
be sworn in
jury box chair
the juror in the first seat in the first row of the jury box
face up to 10
years in prison
three strikes and
face life in
get life in
prison without parole
face a sentence as
long as life in prison if convicted
jury > begin
have three sentencing options:
the death penalty, life in prison with parole, or life without parole
deserve the death penalty
impose the death penalty on...
follow the jury's
hand the case
over to the eight-woman, four-man panel
be handed the case
by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville
a Santa Barbara County Grand jury indictment that
with four counts of molesting a 13-year-old boy,
four counts of plying the young cancer patient with alcohol in order to abuse
one count of conspiracy and one count of attempted molestation
behind closed doors
hung jury > unable to
reach a verdict
deadlock > mistrial
call for a mistrial
declare a mistrial
reach a partial
a verdict /
reach a decision
prove beyond a
Juveniles Don’t Deserve Life Sentences
The New York Times
By GAIL GARINGER
IN the late 1980s, a small but influential group of criminologists predicted a
coming wave of violent juvenile crime: “superpredators,” as young as 11,
committing crimes in “wolf packs.” Politicians soon responded to those fears,
and to concerns about the perceived inadequacies of state juvenile justice
systems, by lowering the age at which children could be transferred to adult
courts. The concern was that offenders prosecuted as juveniles would have to be
released at age 18 or 21.
At the same time, “tough on crime” rhetoric led some states to enact laws making
it easier to impose life without parole sentences on adults. The unintended
consequence of these laws was that children as young as 13 and 14 who were
charged as adults became subject to life without parole sentences.
Nationwide, 79 young adolescents have been sentenced to die in prison — a
sentence not imposed on children anywhere else in the world. These children were
told that they could never change and that no one cared what became of them.
They were denied access to education and rehabilitation programs and left
without help or hope.
But the prediction of a generation of superpredators never came to pass.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, violent juvenile crime declined, and it has
continued to decline through the present day. The laws that were passed to deal
with them, however, continue to exist. This month, the United States Supreme
Court will hear oral arguments in two cases, Jackson v. Hobbs and Miller v.
Alabama, which will decide whether children can be sentenced to life without
parole after being convicted of homicide.
The court has already struck down the death penalty for juveniles and life
without parole for young offenders convicted in nonhomicide cases. The rationale
for these earlier decisions is simple and equally applicable to the cases to be
heard: Young people are biologically different from adults. Brain imaging
studies reveal that the regions of the adolescent brain responsible for
controlling thoughts, actions and emotions are not fully developed. They cannot
be held to the same standards when they commit terrible wrongs.
Homicide is the worst crime, but in striking down the juvenile death penalty in
2005, the Supreme Court recognized that even in the most serious murder cases,
“juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among the worst
offenders”: they are less mature, more vulnerable to peer pressure, cannot
escape from dangerous environments, and their characters are still in formation.
And because they remain unformed, it is impossible to assume that they will
always present an unacceptable risk to public safety.
The most disturbing part of the superpredator myth is that it presupposed that
certain children were hopelessly defective, perhaps genetically so. Today, few
believe that criminal genes are inherited, except in the sense that parental
abuse and negative home lives can leave children with little hope and limited
As a former juvenile court judge, I have seen firsthand the enormous capacity of
children to change and turn themselves around. The same malleability that makes
them vulnerable to peer pressure also makes them promising candidates for
An overwhelming majority of young offenders grow out of crime. But it is
impossible at the time of sentencing for mental health professionals to predict
which youngsters will fall within that majority and grow up to be productive,
law-abiding citizens and which will fall into the small minority that continue
to commit crimes. For this reason, the court has previously recognized that
children should not be condemned to die in prison without being given a
“meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and
The criminologists who promoted the superpredator theory have acknowledged that
their prediction never came to pass, repudiated the theory and expressed regret.
They have joined several dozen other criminologists in an amicus brief to the
court asking it to strike down life without parole sentences for children
convicted of murder. I urge the justices to apply the logic and the wisdom of
their earlier decisions and affirm that the best time to decide whether someone
should spend his entire life in prison is when he has grown to be an adult, not
when he is still a child.
a juvenile court judge in Massachusetts from 1995 to 2008,
is the state’s
child advocate, appointed by the governor.
Juveniles Don’t Deserve Life Sentences, NYT, 14.3.2012,
a Final Round of Finger-Pointing
Trial of Michael Jackson’s Doctor
The New York Times
By JENNIFER MEDINA
— Michael Jackson’s death was caused by a doctor who was more concerned with
making money and protecting himself than caring for his patient, prosecutors
said in closing arguments on Thursday in the trial of the man who served as the
pop singer’s private physician in the final months of his life and is now
charged with manslaughter.
After 22 days of testimony over six weeks, the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray came
to an end with closing statements from prosecutors and defense lawyers, who
painted dramatically different pictures of the legendary pop star and the doctor
caring for him. The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Friday.
The defense lawyer, Ed Chernoff, said that Mr. Jackson was a man desperate to
prepare for a series of 50 sold-out concerts in London and relied on a cocktail
of drugs to keep him going. Mr. Chernoff argued that prosecutors were asking the
jury to convict Dr. Murray for something that Mr. Jackson had done. The defense
argues that Mr. Jackson self-administered the dose of the drug that killed him.
“We’ve been dancing around this for six weeks, maybe two years,” Mr. Chernoff
told the jury. “If it were anybody else besides Michael Jackson — anybody else —
would this doctor be here today?”
The Los Angeles County coroner ruled that “acute propofol intoxication” in
combination with two other drugs in his system caused Mr. Jackson’s death.
David Walgren, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said that Murray
had “grossly corrupted” the doctor-patient relationship with Mr. Jackson and
knew that his actions had led to his death.
“Conrad Murray sought payment for services rendered, the services rendered being
the provision of propofol,” Mr. Walgren said. “It was an employer-employee
relationship. Conrad Murray sought payment for services rendered, not for proper
medical care, not for the sake of doing no harm.”
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from medical experts, as well as Mr.
Jackson’s former aides and several of Dr. Murray’s former patients. One expert
for the defense testified that Mr. Jackson was most likely addicted to drugs
that made it difficult to sleep and caused his own death by injecting himself
with propofol when Dr. Murray was out of the room. A prosecution witness said
that the defense’s argument that Mr. Jackson injected the drug himself was
Two days after Mr. Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, Dr. Murray told detectives
that he had been using the surgical anesthetic propofol nearly daily for the
last two months to help Mr. Jackson sleep. But he said that he had been trying
to wean Mr. Jackson off the drug and had tried sedatives instead.
After those drugs did not work and he had spent 10 hours trying to fall asleep,
Mr. Jackson begged for propofol, Dr. Murray told investigators.
Prosecutors said that this statement alone amounted to enough of an admission of
gross negligence to convict Dr. Murray of manslaughter. But prosecutors also
called several expert witnesses who testified that Dr. Murray lied to the
Before the closing arguments began, Judge Michael Pastor of the Superior Court
of California instructed jurors that they had to come to a unanimous agreement
on one of two theories in order to convict Dr. Murray on the charge of
involuntary manslaughter: either that Dr. Murray was acting legally but in a
criminally negligent way or that he failed to perform his legal duty as Mr.
Dr. Murray decided late in the trial that he would not testify on his own
behalf. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his
Jury Hears a Final Round of Finger-Pointing
in the Trial
of Michael Jackson’s Doctor,
Cheshire Case Jurors
Speak on Death Verdict
November 8, 2010
The New York Times
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
NEW HAVEN — Day after day since Sept. 13, they sat in the jury box. They had
to look at photographs of children who were burned while tied to their beds.
They sat feet from grieving family members.
On Monday, the jurors had their verdict for the defendant, Steven J. Hayes, who
had wreaked havoc at the Petit house in Cheshire, Conn. It had almost been
expected from the start of the home-invasion trial: Death by lethal injection.
As the jurors began to talk publicly about their verdict on Monday night, they
said they were certain of it and unified. They said there had never been a deep
division on the panel and that the three and a half days of deliberation were to
solemnly consider when capital punishment was warranted and then to work through
the complexities of the pages of legal questions they had to answer.
But several of them said in interviews that sitting in the Cheshire
home-invasion case had been a harrowing experience, thinking for weeks about the
two parolees who broke into a suburban home in the middle of the night and
killed a mother and her two daughters, beat and tied up the girls’ father and
committed countless other offenses.
“It was a challenge to me to see if I have the courage and the strength of
character,” said Diane N. Keim, 59, a special-education teacher from Madison.
“Other than what you see in movies, I have not seen children burned.”
Herbert R. Gram, 77, also of Madison, said it was the hard-to-hear facts of the
home invasion by two intruders with disturbing criminal pasts and the horrifying
crime-scene photographs that made the case for capital punishment.
“I’ve seen a lot, and been a lot of places,” Mr. Gram said. “I’ve certainly seen
death before.” Then he paused. “This was not easy. There was nothing easy about
Some jurors mentioned that it was impossible to be in the courtroom day after
day and not wonder, as they looked at Mr. Hayes, how many more people like him
were out there willing to break all the rules and ruin people.
Elizabeth Burbank, 45, an interior designer from New Haven, said she could not
help wondering how safe she and the people she loved truly were. “The idea of
being invaded while you’re asleep, when you’re vulnerable — we can’t help but
worry about it now,” she said.
She used to work in a prison, Ms. Burbank said, and she thought she had a thick
enough skin to handle this case. But, she said, “Nothing can ever prepare you
for this kind of thing.”
The daily inundation in topics most people do not have to think about took a
toll, said Delores A. Carter, a retired health care worker from Hamden. “It was
life changing,” she said. “You see everything in a whole new light after you’ve
been through something like this.”
As the weeks of testimony went on, the toll on the jurors grew. “The weight just
got heavier and heavier,” said Ian Cassell, 35, of New Haven, who was the jury
foreman in the penalty phase of the trial.
By the time they had agreed on the death verdict, “all the jurors were really
emotional,” Mr. Cassell said. It was a verdict based on the law, he said. “No
one is happy. Nothing is better. Nothing is solved.”
The jurors said that reporters had completely misinterpreted the notes they
handed court officials during deliberations on Friday and Saturday that seemed
to suggest some of them were leaning toward accepting a defense argument that
Mr. Hayes should be spared because of a defense claim that he was mentally
impaired at the time of the crime.
They said those notes had been purely hypothetical, as they tried to work
through confusing legal instructions about the many questions they were required
They said the jurors worked agreeably, and that three or four seemed
particularly upset early in the deliberations at the prospect of voting for an
execution. But they said they spent some of Friday and much of Saturday talking
philosophically about when capital punishment was warranted.
Mr. Gram said the conversation veered broadly and included discussion of whether
society had the right to take a life. In the end, he said, all the jurors agreed
that if there was ever a case in which the death penalty was appropriate, the
Cheshire case was it.
The sentiment was unanimous, he said. “It was just so heinous and just so over
the top and depraved. Here is a case where somebody doesn’t deserve to remain on
the face of the earth.”
After the verdict, most of the jurors met with Dr. William A. Petit Jr., who was
beaten by the intruders and tied up while his wife and daughters were tormented
and killed. After some of the jurors asked for the meeting after the verdict
Monday, court officials quietly arranged for it in an out-of-the-way spot in the
court building where the jurors and Petit family members had crossed paths for
Ms. Keim said the meeting was emotional, with jurors hugging members of the
family, and Dr. Petit and members of the extended family thanking the jurors for
the grueling task they had undertaken.
Ms. Keim said that on the worst days of the trial she had often had a sensation
that she would never be able to do what she wanted to do for the Petits and
their daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, who were killed after the worst
night of their lives.
In the jury box, Ms. Keim said: “I just wanted to hold the girls. I wanted to
take whatever they experienced before they died and take it away. But it wasn’t
in my power.”
Ms. Keim said she would not forget something one of the girls’ grandmothers had
said in the jurors’ meeting with the family members. The elderly woman told the
jurors, “We’re so sorry we had to put you through this.”
Robert Davey and Elizabeth Maker contributed reporting.
Cheshire Case Jurors
Speak on Death Verdict, NYT, 8.11.2010,
Defendant Ignited Fire,
Cheshire Prosecutor Tells Jury
October 1, 2010
The New York Times
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
NEW HAVEN — A prosecutor at the trial of one of the two men
accused of invading a home and murdering a woman and her two daughters contended
on Friday for the first time that it was the defendant, Steven J. Hayes, who
ignited the fire that killed the girls.
In his closing argument, the prosecutor, Michael Dearington, reminded jurors of
testimony that Mr. Hayes ran from the house following the other suspect, Joshua
“The last one out is the one who lights the fire,” Mr. Dearington said.
In a courtroom darkened so jurors could see slides of the victims and their home
in Cheshire, Conn., which was ruined by an arson fire after a home invasion,
rape and murder in 2007, Mr. Dearington repeatedly emphasized that no matter how
much of a role Mr. Komisarjevsky had in the crime, Mr. Hayes played a crucial
role and personally committed many of the acts involved.
Mr. Komisarjevsky has been a central focus of Mr. Hayes’s trial, though he has
not been in the courtroom.
The two men face the possibility of the death penalty. Mr. Komisarjevsky is to
be tried later.
Mr. Dearington, speaking unemotionally but somberly, reminded jurors that soon
after his arrest Mr. Hayes told an officer that “things got out of control.”
“It wasn’t ‘things,’ ” he continued. “It was two people acting together.”
Mr. Dearington also reminded the jurors that Mr. Hayes admitted to having had
sex with and then killing the mother of the family, Jennifer Hawke-Petit.
“Hayes had sex — having sex is not the right term — brutally raped” her, the
In his summation, Mr. Hayes’s lawyer, Thomas J. Ullmann, offered a defense that
seemed geared toward saving his client from the death penalty, but not
establishing his innocence, while putting the blame on Mr. Komisarjevsky.
Mr. Ullmann conceded many of the charges against his client, including those
that he raped and killed Ms. Hawke-Petit.
Speaking softly and occasionally shaking his head at the acts his client
committed, he also said Mr. Hayes had committed arson, burglary and larceny.
And Mr. Ullmann conceded that Mr. Hayes took part in the kidnapping of all four
members of the family, including the two girls, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17,
who died from smoke inhalation, and their father, Dr. William A. Petit Jr., who
was beaten but survived.
But Mr. Ullmann said that Mr. Komisarjevsky was the one controlling events; he
portrayed Mr. Hayes as someone who never could have committed the crimes.
He said Mr. Hayes had not known that Mr. Komisarjevsky would change what he said
had been their plan: break in, tie up the family, take money and get out.
Instead, Mr. Ullmann argued, Mr. Komisarjevsky changed the plan first by beating
Dr. Petit and then by raping Michaela.
“The psychopath in this case is Joshua Komisarjevsky, not Steven Hayes,” Mr.
“He should pay the price for what he did,” Mr. Ullmann argued about his client,
“but not for what he did not do.”
Connecticut law generally requires what lawyers call “death plus” for a crime to
warrant capital punishment.
As a result, Mr. Hayes could be sentenced to life in prison for killing Ms.
Hawke-Petit, but committing a murder during the course of the rape would be a
Mr. Ullmann argued that the rape of Ms. Hawke-Petit that Mr. Hayes confessed to
might have been separate from his later strangulation of her.
Killing Michaela would make Mr. Hayes eligible for the death penalty because it
is a capital offense under Connecticut law to kill a person who is younger than
Mr. Ullmann devoted a good deal of his remarks to arguing that Mr. Komisarjevsky
had a motive to kill the child: to cover up his sexual assault.
The 12 jurors and 2 remaining alternates were attentive to both arguments. In
keeping with the reserved tone of the lawyers, they appeared unemotional.
A few of them nodded as lawyers for both sides pieced together narratives from
what has often been disjointed, emotional testimony during the three-week trial.
Deliberations are to begin on Monday after the judge, Jon C. Blue of State
Superior Court, gives the jurors legal instructions.
If Mr. Hayes is convicted of capital offenses, the same jury will hear a
separate penalty phase of the trial.
The lawyers for both sides acknowledged the wrenching nature of the case.
Mr. Dearington displayed a family photograph of Ms. Hawke-Petit and her
daughters for the jury on a large screen. But he referred to other photographs
in evidence, like those of burned bodies.
He thanked the jurors for enduring “what has been indescribable evidence.”
Mr. Ullmann said the “the tragedy of this incident has affected us deeply — all
When he claimed that Mr. Hayes had killed Ms. Hawke-Petit “at the behest of” Mr.
Komisarjevsky, Mr. Hayes, who was slumping at the defense table, did not stir.
In the end, Mr. Dearington argued, it did not really matter precisely which
intruder took which action. Both were responsible, he said.
And, he said, both men had a problem because of the series of crimes they had
“The solution was to destroy the house,” the prosecutor said to the jurors,
“and, you may find, the people in it.”
Fire, Cheshire Prosecutor Tells Jury, NYT, 1.10.2010,
in MySpace Suicide Case
The New York Times
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
— A federal jury here issued what legal experts said was the country’s first
cyberbullying verdict Wednesday, convicting a Missouri woman of three
misdemeanor charges of computer fraud for her involvement in creating a phony
account on MySpace to trick a teenager, who later committed suicide.
The jury deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy against the woman, Lori
Drew, 49, and the judge, George H. Wu of Federal District Court, declared a
mistrial on that charge.
Although it was unclear how severely Ms. Drew would be punished — the jury
reduced the charges to misdemeanors from felonies, and no sentencing date was
set — the conviction was highly significant, computer fraud experts said,
because it was the first time that a federal statute designed to combat computer
crimes was used to prosecute what were essentially abuses of a user agreement on
a social networking site.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Ms. Drew could face up to three years in
prison and $300,000 in fines, though she has no previous criminal record. Her
lawyer has asked for a new trial.
In a highly unusual move, Thomas P. O’Brien, the United States attorney in Los
Angeles, prosecuted the case himself with two subordinates after law enforcement
officials in Missouri determined Ms. Drew had broken no local laws.
Mr. O’Brien, who asserted jurisdiction on the ground that MySpace is based in
Los Angeles, where its servers are housed, said the verdict sent an
“overwhelming message” to users of the Internet.
“If you are going to attempt to annoy or go after a little girl and you’re going
to use the Internet to do so,” he said, “this office and others across the
country will hold you responsible.”
During the five-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Ms. Drew as working in concert
with her daughter, Sarah, who was then 13, and Ashley Grills, a family friend
and employee of Ms. Drew’s magazine coupon business in Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
Testimony showed that they created a teenage boy, “Josh Evans,” as an identity
on MySpace to communicate with Sarah’s nemesis, Megan Meier, who was 13 and had
a history of depression and suicidal impulses.
After weeks of online courtship with “Josh,” Megan was distressed one afternoon
in October 2006, according to testimony at the trial, when she received an
e-mail message from him that said, “The world would be a better place without
Ms. Grills, who is now 20, testified under an immunity agreement that shortly
after that message was sent, Megan wrote back, “You’re the kind of boy a girl
would kill herself over.” Megan hanged herself that same afternoon in her
Although the jury appeared to reject the government’s contention that Ms. Drew
had intended to harm Megan — a notion underlying the felony charges — the
convictions signaled the 12 members’ belief that she had nonetheless violated
federal laws that prohibit gaining access to a computer without authorization.
Specifically, the jury found Ms. Drew guilty of accessing a computer without
authorization on three occasions, a reference to the fraudulent postings on
MySpace in the name of Josh Evans.
Legal and computer fraud experts said the application of the federal Computer
Fraud and Abuse Act, passed in 1986 and amended several times, appeared to be
expanding with technology and the growth of social networking on the Internet.
More typically, prosecutions under the act have involved people who hack into
“Keep in mind that social networking sites like MySpace did not exist until
recently,” said Nick Akerman, a New York lawyer who has written and lectured
extensively on the act. “This case will be simply another important step in the
expanded use of this statute to protect the public from computer crime.”
Other computer fraud experts said they found the verdict chilling.
“As a result of the prosecutor’s highly aggressive, if not unlawful, legal
theory,” said Matthew L. Levine, a former federal prosecutor who is a defense
lawyer in New York, “it is now a crime to ‘obtain information’ from a Web site
in violation of its terms of service. This cannot be what Congress meant when it
enacted the law, but now you have it.”
Ms. Drew, who showed little emotion during the trial, sat stone-faced as the
clerk read the jury’s verdict and left the courtroom quickly, her face red and
twisted with rage.
Her lawyer, H. Dean Steward, said outside the courthouse that he believed the
trial was grandstanding by Mr. O’Brien in an effort to keep his job, with the
coming change in the White House.
“I don’t have any satisfaction at all,” Mr. Steward said of the verdict.
Judge Wu scheduled a hearing on the request for a new trial for late December.
Since the story surrounding the suicide became public last year, Mr. O’Brien has
discussed with his staff how his feelings as a parent motivated him to bring the
charges against Ms. Drew. He alluded to those feelings on Wednesday at a news
“This was obviously a case that means a lot to me,” he said.
The case has been a collection of anomalies. Judge Wu appeared ambivalent
regarding some key issues at the trial, like whether any testimony about Megan’s
suicide would be allowed (he did allow it) and how to rule on a defense motion
to throw out the charges (he had not ruled as of Wednesday).
Judge Wu was appointed to the federal bench less than two years ago, and it is
difficult to establish his sentencing record. But Mr. Akerman, the computer
fraud expert, said jail time was common even for first-time offenders in
computer fraud cases.
“If I were her,” he said of Ms. Drew, “I would not be celebrating over the
Tina Meier, Megan’s mother, said in a news conference after the verdict that she
hoped Ms. Drew would serve jail time, and that she felt satisfied.
“This day is not any harder than the day when I found Megan,” Ms. Meier said.
“This has never been about vengeance. This is about justice. For me it’s
absolutely worth it every single day sitting in that court hoping there was
Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case, NYT, 27.11.2008,
Struggle for Jurors
Filed at 2:43 p.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Byrne was making a quick trip to the grocery store to buy some cheese when a
sheriff approached her car in the parking lot and slipped something through her
Byrne didn't get the cheese, but she did get a jury summons.
The 64-year-old woman was ordered to report for jury duty a little more than an
hour later at the Lee County courthouse in Sanford, N.C. When Byrne protested,
the sheriff told her: ''Be there or you'll be in contempt.''
''I wasn't too happy,'' said Byrne, one of at least a dozen people handed
summonses at random in March outside a Food Lion and Wal-Mart.
Courts across the country have been going to extraordinary lengths in recent
years to get people to report for jury duty -- a cornerstone of democracy and a
civic responsibility that many citizens would do almost anything to avoid.
Experts say the shirking of jury duty has been a problem as long as anyone can
remember, and it is unclear whether it has gotten any worse in the past few
decades. But according to one study, fewer than half of all Americans summoned
report for duty, in part because of apathy and busy lifestyles.
''Everybody likes jury duty -- just not this week,'' said Patricia Lee Refo, a
Phoenix lawyer who chaired the American Jury Project, an effort by the American
Bar Association to increase jury participation.
Among other efforts around the country to boost participation:
-- In Los Angeles County, officials have put ads promoting jury service on the
court system's mail trucks. They read: ''Jury Service: You Be the Judge.''
-- In New York state, occupational exemptions to jury service have been
eliminated, so doctors, lawyers, firefighters, police officers and even judges
can no longer get out of jury duty.
-- In Florida, court officials use a poster of Harrison Ford, star of the movie
''Presumed Innocent,'' to encourage people to report for jury duty. The poster
was part of a 2005 public service campaign developed by the ABA. ''If a picture
of Harrison Ford helps us be a more democratic society, then I'm all for it,''
said Greg Cowan, a court official in Leon County, Fla.
-- In Washington, D.C., judges have summoned no-shows to court, where they must
explain why they missed their date or face up to seven days in jail and a $300
fine. In Tulare County, Calif., sheriffs go to the homes of no-shows and hand
them orders to appear in court to explain themselves.
-- Around the country, some courts have tried to make jury service less
burdensome by raising daily fees paid to jurors, limiting jury service to one
day or one trial, and reimbursing jurors for parking costs.
Nationally, about 46 percent of people summoned for jury duty show up, according
to a survey of jury improvement efforts conducted by the National Center for
State Courts and published in April. It was the organization's first such
Many of the rest did not show up or were excused or disqualified for a variety
of reasons, including medical or financial hardship, or employment in a job
exempt from jury service. Or, they never received their jury summons because it
was mailed to an outdated address.
Ann Blakely, the clerk of Superior Court in North Carolina's Lee County, said
sending out sheriffs to find jurors at random is done very rarely, and only when
a judge is about to begin a case and there are not enough jurors.
''Not again in my lifetime, I hope,'' she said. ''We got a lot of complaints
from people. You do not make friends like that.''
Some people struggle mightily to get out of jury duty. Earlier this month, a
Cape Cod, Mass., judge reprimanded a potential juror and reported him to
prosecutors after he tried to get out of jury service by saying he was ''not a
fan of homosexuals and most blacks'' and was ''frequently found to be a liar,
In Manhattan, about 33 percent of those summoned show up the day they are called
-- up from 23 percent in the mid-1990s, before widespread reforms were put in
place, including the elimination of all occupational exemptions and the use of
five different lists to pick potential jurors from, including voter
registrations, licensed drivers, taxpayers, unemployment and aid recipients,
said Anthony Manisero, statewide jury manager.
In Boston, about 24 percent of the people called for jury duty in 2006 completed
their service before the end of the year -- an improvement from less than 20
percent in the mid-1990s, before the city began updating its address lists.
Nevertheless, the juror shortage in Boston has become so acute that court
officials are worried they may run out of jurors before the end of the year.
An increase in the number of homicides in Boston and the use of special grand
juries to investigate violent crimes have eaten into the prospective juror list.
The city also has a large number of immigrants, who are exempt from jury duty,
and college students, who move so frequently that their summonses are often sent
back as undeliverable.
The problem appears to be worse in urban courts, where the population is more
transient and address lists can quickly become outdated. But rural and suburban
areas also have problems with reluctant jurors.
In Tulare County, Calif., where the trial of two brothers accused of murdering
five people in a bar had to be delayed a day because not enough prospective
jurors showed up, Superior Court Judge Lloyd Hicks said the warning letters and
visits from the sheriff are making a difference. He said the no-show rate has
declined from about 56 percent to 39 percent since the crackdown began about a
''It had been a common problem because people were aware that nothing would
happen to them,'' Hicks said. Now, people are calling in to schedule their jury
service after watching their neighbors get a visit from the sheriff, he said.
Courts Struggle for Jurors, NYT, 27.7.2007,
miscarriage of justice
USA > Constitution /
Supreme Court / law / legislation
USA > justice
USA > police / justice > charges
justice > prosecution
USA > justice > first court appearance
USA > justice
> bond / bail hearing
> justice > indictment
USA > justice
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USA > justice > trial
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