Federal Judge Vows to Remove Anti-Maskers from Jury Pool

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Federal Judge Vows to Remove Anti-Maskers from Jury Pool

In a sexual harassment case scheduled to begin in January, U.S. District Judge William M. Ray III has specified that all courtroom actors must wear face masks.  During a pretrial conference he stated, “If a juror says they're not going to wear a mask, I'm going to excuse them for cause, I think that's justified during the pandemic that we're dealing with.  I wear a mask everywhere I go. My father-in-law won't wear a mask anywhere, and I would strike him from a jury immediately. So, if we have an anti-masker out there, then they're not going to be able to serve."  In addition, to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, he expressed a preference for jurors not going out to lunch during any midday recess. Instead, he would like to run the trial from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

Should Voting in Elections Be Mandatory Like Jury Duty?

Danielle Allen at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics advocates in the Washington Post that voting be treated like jury duty.  She asserts, “Australia has used this approach for almost a century; those who don’t turn out to vote receive a minimal fine. More important, the policy has built up a culture of expectation that all vote.”

Veteran Trial Attorneys Reflect on Online Jury Selection

Experienced civil litigator Rick Norris recounts lessons learned from remote jury selection in a recent trial in Alameda County, California.  In a separate story,  Law.com (subscription needed) quotes several other trial lawyers who recently undertook virtual jury selection.  Attorney Matthew Kachergus was not alone in saying, “Get very familiar with the technology before appearing at the trial.  I would highly recommend doing a mock trial.  I would spend a lot of time with your exhibits and learn how to get them published.  Get familiar with whatever application you’re using, so the technology doesn’t stymie you in the middle of what you’re doing.  If at all possible, get an assistant or a paralegal or another attorney in your office to handle those tech things, so you can focus on being the lawyer and not an IT professional.”

10% Juror Yield in Abilene, Texas During the Pandemic

Residents of Taylor County, Texas are returning to bars but not to courthouses for jury duty.  The Abilene Reporter-News disclosed that 1,000 jury summonses were sent out in anticipation of jury trials resuming for the first time since April.  One hundred citizens showed up at the courthouse.  The newspaper editorial page opined, “If you can go buy a brew, you can be a juror, too. The late Johnnie Cochran would've liked that.”

Mistrial Declared in Rape Case After Multiple Health-Related Delays in Jury Deliberations

Testimony against defendant Marlon Henry concluded on October 2.  Scheduling conflicts delayed the start of jury deliberations until October 8.  But on that day, deliberations were again delayed because a juror travelled out of state and had to be tested for COVID-19.  When deliberations were set to resume on October 16, deliberations were canceled because a juror took ill.  On October 24, deliberations were cancelled yet again because a juror exhibited problematic health symptoms.  After three weeks of delays, New Mexico District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington granted the defense motion for a mistrial.  Upon reflection, should trial judges restrict juror travel during a trial’s duration?

Grand Jury Deliberations During a Pandemic

Is it wise to attempt virtual grand jury proceedings?  Judge Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D., Acting Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts recently testified before the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee.  His testimony (available here with a Law.com subscription) recounted elements of a successful pilot project to continue grand jury proceedings during a public health emergency.