Iowa Supreme Court Creates a “Jumpstart Jury Trials Task Force”

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Judge Who Recently Served as a Juror Tells How Much He Loved the Opportunity

New York State appellate judge Gerald J. Whalen writes in the New York Journal about how inspiring it was for him to serve on jury. His essay is a wonderful tribute to jury service.

Iowa Supreme Court Creates a “Jumpstart Jury Trials Task Force”

The 17-member group composed of judges, lawyers, and an IT director will develop temporary policies and procedures for jury trials that will ensure the “fundamental rights of a defendant” to a jury trial, while at the same time “protecting the health and safety” of the jurors, attorneys, judges and the public. Criminal jury trials are now scheduled to resume on July 13 and civil trials on August 3.

Jury Trials Slowly Resume in the UK

INext week jury trials will begin to occur on a small scale in the Old Bailey in London and the Cardiff Crown Court. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, has not stated when jury trials will resume in other UK courts. Similarly, in the Commonwealth of Australia, jury trials are resuming this month.

Jury Selection in a Convention Center? In a Former K-Mart Building? Some Courthouses Can’t Make the Grade!

With jury trials postponed until at least July 6, trial courts in Washington State are scrambling to find suitable venues for citizens to return to courthouses. The presiding judge for Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma is looking at several locations that will meet the health and security needs of jurors and other court actors. Another planning priority is providing assurance that attorney/client conversations and jury deliberations will remain confidential. Possible locations include the Armory Building next to the courthouse, the Greater Tacoma Convention Center, and a former department store.

Prospective Juror Says He’s Not Sure He Can Be Fair, But Defense Counsel Makes No Motion to Strike. Should New Trial Be Ordered?

A Brooklyn jury convicted Robert Maffei of murder. During voir dire, one of the final jurors admitted he read about the case and “kind of made up my mind.” In response to further questioning, the juror stated repeatedly he was “not sure” he could be impartial. Defense attorney did not move to strike that juror. On appeal, Maffei claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. New York’s highest court rejected defendant’s arguments. The majority opinion stated the “appropriate procedure” to litigate Maffei's appeal was for him to file a motion with the trial judge to vacate the conviction. Associate Judge Jenny Rivera in dissent wrote, “Who would want their liberty in the hands of a person who says they heard about the case, kind of made up their mind based on what they had read because they did not like the circumstances, and then admits they are not sure they can be impartial and fair? Who wants a juror who, at most, can only say they ‘hope’ they can meet this essential requirement for jury service?”

Epilogue to Ohio Case Reported in Last Week’s Jur-E Bulletin

Last week we reported about a recently aborted jury trial in an article captioned “Ohio Judge Forges Ahead with Jury Trial Despite Evidence of COVID in the Courtroom.” The story derived from a news outlet. Since then, we received access to the trial judge’s court filing explaining his actions in detail.

Learn How State Courts Are Using Innovative Technologies and Responsible Health and Safety Practices to Resume Jury Trials

The CCJ/COSCA Rapid Response Team will host a webinar on Friday, May 22, from 3 to 4:30 pm EDT that will focus on state and local efforts to resume jury trials and grand jury proceedings. Panelists will discuss the development and implementation of new policies to manage jurors and jury trials; the experience of courts in pilot tests of remote jury trials and grand jury proceedings; and innovative ways to ensure social distancing and other public health and safety measures with prospective jurors. Register here.