Scott Peterson Death Sentence Overturned Due to Jury Selection Errors

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Scott Peterson Death Sentence Overturned Due to Jury Selection Errors

In People v. Scott Lee Peterson, the California Supreme Court found that the trial judge improperly dismissed prospective jurors from the jury panel after saying they personally disagreed with the death penalty but were willing to follow the law and impose it.

“Better by the Dozen: Bringing Back the Twelve-Person Civil Jury”

That is the title of an article in the summer 2020 issue of Judicature.

“How Federal Patent Tutorial Video Influences Jurors”

That is the title of a study and blog authored by Alexis Knutson and Jeffrey Jarman. Given that patent litigation is usually quite complex. the Federal Judicial Center produced a patent tutorial video, “The Patent Process: A Overview for Jurors,” that aims to provide a neutral introduction to the most common issues addressed in patent litigation.  The researchers collected data from 2015-2019 on 13 patent mock trials and found that tutorial viewers better understood the difficulty of getting a patent, believed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was less likely to erroneously grant a patent, and felt more confident in determining the validity of a patent, compared to their impression before watching the video.

Cornell Law School Hosts an Online Discussion on Juries and Lay Participation Around the Globe During the Pandemic

Jury observers from Asia, Europe, North America, and South America came together this month to share information about how the COVID-19 health emergency is affecting jury trials and lay participation generally. The video recording is free and accessible here.

Might Removal of Jury Sentencing in Virginia Lead to Fairer Outcomes?

Two weeks ago, we reported Virginia legislators convened this month in special session to address a budget crisis caused by the pandemic and to work on a variety of criminal justice reforms that include giving defendants the option to select jury sentencing.  Since then, the jury sentencing reform bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Daily Press recently conducted interviews with the jury reform bill’s sponsor Sen. Joe Morrissey and with veteran criminal defense lawyers.  Morrisey termed the bill “the most the most significant piece of criminal justice legislation in the last decade.  It will immediately halt . . . prosecutors giving heavy-handed plea offers to the defendant with the admonishment, ‘Take it or leave it.’  When prosecutors say, ‘We’re gonna demand a jury trial,’ that’s code for jury sentencing, which is code for decades in prison instead of the two years that are being offered.”  Newport News Deputy Public Defender David Lee said the change would mean defendants “would no longer have to pay the jury penalty — which is that if I do get convicted, I’m gonna get thumped.”  During the guilt or innocence phase of a trial, he said, jurors are more likely than judges to have “reasonable doubt” concerns. “They are typically somewhat more critical of police and the criminal justice system because they don’t see police officers in their courtroom every day.”  Even though jury sentences can often be fair and lenient, Lee said juries generally tend to be more emotional, less predictable, and more heavy-handed because they just heard all the bad evidence. “There’s no cooling off period before they impose a sentence.”  He suggests the Morrisey bill would allow juries to determine guilt and then give a defendant the opportunity to be sentenced by “a cool-headed judge.”