Jurors in Canada Participate in For-Cause Rulings

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NCSC to Host Webinar with Court Leaders Who Implemented Practices for Conducting Jury Trials During the Pandemic

Next Wednesday, October 28, beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT, the National Center for State Courts will host a free webinar called “Jury Trial Innovations During COVID-19.”  Court leaders from across the country will describe their innovations and lessons learned from resuming jury trials safely during the pandemic.  The panelists will be Chief Judge Robert Greenberg (Montgomery County, Maryland, Circuit Court), Chief Judge Mark Mahon (Florida 4th Judicial Circuit), Pete Hernandez (Manager–Office of the Jury Commissioner, Orange County, California, Superior Court), and Kyle Rimel (IT Director, Superior Court of Mohave County, Arizona).  Among other things, participants will learn how the Orange County Superior Court has been able to conduct 100 in-person jury trials since court operations resumed in May.  You can register here.

Jurors in Canada Participate in For-Cause Rulings

The Telegram news outlet in Newfoundland reports that the Canadian Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of suspected terrorists Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier after finding the trial judge’s failure to follow proper jury selection procedures was harmless error.  The story is noteworthy because it educates us about a variety of voir dire practices that differ from American practices.  For example, once two jurors are selected, they become ”triers,” having a say in whether or not other prospective jurors should become jurors before the Crown and defense lawyers make a final call. Each selected juror replaces one of the two triers.  In addition, if a trial court decides to seat more than 12 jurors, those extras must be dismissed by the court in a blind random draw before deliberations begin.

First Federal Zoom Trial in Washington State Results in $1.35 Million Verdict

In the first remote jury trial in the Western District of Washington, the jury awarded 84-year-old Margaret Dallo $1.35 million in damages against the Holland America cruise line.  The trial took place on ZoomGov with the Box.com platform for exhibits.

Trial Court Rejection of Batson Challenge Overturned on Appeal for Court Failure to Make Clear Record of Its Reasoning

In State v. Alexander, a black defendant raised a Batson challenge after the prosecutor peremptorily struck the only black prospective juror.  The defense pointed out how the prosecutor did not strike similarly situated white jurors.  The trial judge denied the challenge and Mr. Alexander was convicted.  A North Carolina appellate panel reversed the conviction citing the failure of the trial judge to make a clear record that he considered all factors and inferences raised by the defendant.

Convicted Wife Killer Scott Peterson Claims Juror Misconduct and Returns to Court Today

After Mr. Peterson was convicted of killing his pregnant wife Laci Peterson in 2002, the California Supreme Court earlier this year vacated his death sentence but affirmed the guilty verdict.  Today, following a mandate by the high court, Mr. Peterson returns to court seeking a new trial claiming that one juror withheld information that she was a victim of a crime while pregnant.  Peterson’s defense lawyer asserts that “Had we known some of that information, she would’ve been challenged for cause.”  The Los Angeles Times reports that the juror was initially an alternate juror but was given a seat when another juror was discharged. She later co-wrote a book about her experience.

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