Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | Podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate

 Previous Home Up Next


Vocapedia > USA > Law, Justice > Jurors, Jury




Steve Benson

editorial cartoon

The Arizona Republic


16 November 2004




















jury system


























jury selection / screening















































jurors > be selected / seated












jury > be selected / seated










seat a jury


























criminal juries > selection > racism / racial discrimination














jury pool / potential jurors








jury pool














be sworn in














































































all-white jury










jury sequestration

























anonymous juries






fair and impartial jury






civil jury





a majority of the nine men and three women

on the Los Angeles Superior Court jury





be sequestered






mitigating circumstances






the jury's findings on the 10-count indictment against N





state jury






federal jury






members of the jury





in the jury box






on a jury

















foreperson of the jury































impartial panel








serve on the jury








USA > juror        UK / USA





















































dissenting juror









be dismisssed








juror number








Juror 8








juror B37






juror B29






jury box






jury box chair





the juror in the first seat in the first row of the jury box






get case


























jury > begin deliberations






























have three sentencing options:

the death penalty,

life in prison with parole,

or life without parole






deserve the death penalty










vote to impose the death penalty on N











follow the jury's recommendation





hand the case over to the eight-woman, four-man panel





be handed the case by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville





get case





weigh a Santa Barbara County Grand jury indictment





charges Jackson

with four counts of molesting a 13-year-old boy,

four counts of plying the young cancer patient

with alcohol in order to abuse him,

one count of conspiracy

and one count of attempted molestation





work behind closed doors















award ... in damages

















hung jury






hung jury > can't / unable to reach a verdict





announce a deadlock













deadlock > mistrial





call for a mistrial






declare a mistrial








reach a partial verdict
































reach a verdict / verdicts
















reach a decision







unanimous decision





unanimous verdict










prove beyond a reasonable doubt








be beyond a reasonable doubt










a reasonable doubt


















judge > overrule the jury's decision

and give N the death penalty










Corpus of news articles


USA > Law, Justice > Jurors, Jury




Juveniles Don’t Deserve

Life Sentences


March 14, 2012

The New York Times




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 choices.

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 rehabilitation.

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 rehabilitation.”

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.


Gail Garinger,

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,






Jury Hears a Final Round

of Finger-Pointing in the Trial

of Michael Jackson’s Doctor


November 3, 2011

The New York Times



LOS ANGELES — 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 “crazy.”

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 police.

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. Jackson’s doctor.

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 medical license.

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


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 it.”

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 to answer.

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 weeks.

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


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 Komisarjevsky.

“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 prosecutor said.

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. Ullmann said.

“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 capital offense.

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 16.

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 of us.”

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 committed.

“The solution was to destroy the house,” the prosecutor said to the jurors, “and, you may find, the people in it.”

Defendant Ignited Fire, Cheshire Prosecutor Tells Jury,
NYT, 1.10.2010,






Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case


November 27, 2008
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — 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 you.”

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 bedroom.

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 computer systems.

“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 conference.

“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 Thanksgiving weekend.”

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 justice.”

    Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case, NYT, 27.11.2008,






Courts Struggle for Jurors


July 27, 2007

Filed at 2:43 p.m. ET

The New York Times



Madeline 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 open window.

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 survey.

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, too.''

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 year ago.

''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,
aponline/us/AP-Reluctant-Jurors.html - broken link










Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


law > USA > U.S. Constitution



law > USA > U.S. Supreme Court,


State Supreme Courts



justice, law > death penalty > USA



prisons, jails > USA



justice >

courtroom artists / miscarriage of justice >







Related > Anglonautes > Documents


historical documents > USA




home Up