Unformatted text preview: Juries & the Adversarial Juries Process Process PLSC 382I 1 Right to a Jury Trial The right to a jury trial is governed by three different sets of rules that apply to three different types of cases: Civil cases in federal court Civil cases in state court, and Criminal cases (whether in federal court or state court). PLSC 382I 2 Civil Cases in Federal Court In civil cases in federal court the right to a jury trial is governed by the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “In Suits at Common Law, where the value in controversy shall It is clear that the Amendment does not provide for jury trials in all federal civil cases exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried to a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the Common Law.” As of the time of the Amendment’s adoption in 1791 there were several kinds of cases that were not “Suits at Common Law”. Subsequently many kinds of suits have come into being that did not exist at all in 1791, and the law/equity distinction was abolished in 1938. PLSC 382I 3 Civil Cases in Federal Court cont. Civil It is sometimes difficult to decide what jury trial rights “shall be preserved” under the 7th Amendment. Since about 1980 there has been a question whether there is a complexity exception to the 7th Amendment. If the suit seeks money damages the traditional remedy under the common law – likely a right to a jury trial, If the suit seeks only equitable relief like an injunction – likely no right to a jury trial. Cases so complex that jurors cannot be expected to have the capacity to rationally decide them; thus submitting such cases to a jury would violate the Due Process Clause. One federal circuit has held that a “complex case” exception exists Supreme Court has never directly ruled on the issue. PLSC 382I 4 Civil Cases in State Court In civil cases in state court, the right to a jury trial is governed by the state’s constitution and statutes. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial applies only to federal courts. Most states make jury trials widely available for many kinds of civil cases above the level of small claims court. PLSC 382I 5 Criminal Cases Criminal (Federal & State Courts) (Federal The governing law for criminal cases in both federal and state courts is the 6th Amendment, which provides in part: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
PLSC 382I 6 Criminal Cases Criminal (Federal & State Courts) cont. (Federal The 6th Amendment originally only applied to federal criminal prosecutions In 1968 the Supreme Court decided that a right to trial by jury in most criminal cases is so fundamental that it constitutes an element of due process that the state is obligated to provide by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. (Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145). PLSC 382I 7 Criminal Cases Criminal (Federal & State Courts) cont. (Federal In practice, however, not all criminal prosecutions require a jury trial. The Court later decided that a right to jury trial is constitutionally required only for “serious” offenses. In both state and federal courts, an accused person still may waive the right to a trial by jury in favor of a bench trial before a judge.
PLSC 382I “serious” potential punishment for the crime is greater than six months’ imprisonment, (sometimes additional statutory and regulatory penalties may make a crime “serious” even if the potential imprisonment is less than six months). 8 Juror Qualifications The qualifications to serve as a juror are codified by each state’s legislature (and Congress for the federal courts). Most include the following: A minimum age 18 everywhere except Alabama (19), Mississippi (21), Missouri (21), and Nebraska (19) United States citizenship Residence in the state, and in the judicial district covered by the court issuing the summons Ability to sufficiently understand English PLSC 382I 9 Juror Qualifications cont. Many statutes specify conditions that will disqualify a person who is otherwise qualified. Being of unsound mind, Having a record of a felony conviction, The person sat as a juror within a specified period before being summoned again, for example, within one year. PLSC 382I 10 Juror Qualifications cont. In New York pool of voters comes from voter registration, drivers license, tax rolls, utility customer, unemployment, welfare, and volunteers lists Must be 18, 4 years since last on a jury, Not a convicted felon, County resident, and Read, speak and understand English. PLSC 382I 11 Exemptions from Jury Service Exists for some groups in some jurisdictions. Entitles a summoned person within the exempted group to optout of jury service simply by claiming status within the group. The rationales for exemptions: Some groups whose members are very unlikely to survive the selection process, and thus it is inefficient to summon them. Persons whose absence from their jobs could cause public inconvenience or even hardship. Persons whose service could cause them great personal hardship. PLSC 382I 12 Exemptions from Jury Service cont. In the recent trend has been toward repeal of exemptions, If an exemption is repealed, persons formerly within the exempted category can no longer simply optout, but instead must report for jury duty. If they claim a hardship, whether their excuse should be granted will be considered on a casebycase basis by the judge, just as for any other potential juror. PLSC 382I 13 Spread the civic duty of serving more widely, and Attain broader representation for purposes of the fair cross section requirement. Excuses The statutes of most jurisdictions specify the categories of circumstances that authorize excusal of a summoned citizen from jury duty. Also specify that unless the facts are permanent, the person’s service will merely be postponed. State’s excuses normally cluster around two forms of “undue hardship:” Undue hardship to the summoned citizen or to another person for whom he/she is responsible; or Undue hardship to the public. PLSC 382I 14 Jury Pool - Fair Cross Section For civil/criminal cases in both federal/state courts, the Constitution requires that the jury pool be drawn from a “fair cross section” of the community. Requirement serves three constitutional purposes: 1) Assure that the litigants have a chance at a jury that is representative of the community; 2) Assure that all citizens have the opportunity to sit on juries; and 3) Secure the reputation of the justice system for fairness. PLSC 382I 15 Jury Pool - Fair Cross Section cont. The fair cross section requirement is met when the jury pool is drawn from sources from which no “distinctive groups” have been systematically excluded. Supreme Court has not yet set any definitive guidelines for when a group is “distinctive,” the Court has made clear that African Americans, MexicanAmericans, and women are distinctive groups, the systematic exclusion of whom will violate the fair cross section requirement. Most efforts to convince courts that other groups—such as those defined by socioeconomic status or attitudes—are distinctive, have failed. PLSC 382I 16 Jury Pool - Fair Cross Section cont. It is important to recognize that the fair cross section requirement applies only at the 1st stage of the 3stage process. In the 1st stage, a group of citizens is summoned for jury duty “jury pool.” In the 2nd stage, some members of the pool are randomly selected to be sent to a courtroom in which selection of a jury is about to proceed “the venire.” Then in the 3rd stage, some of the members of the venire are dismissed due to challenges. No constitutional right to a fair cross section in the venire or in the jury. There is a right in the 3rd stage for prospective jurors not to be challenged solely on the basis of race or gender. PLSC 382I 17 Jury Pool - Fair Cross Section cont. Despite efforts to deepen the jury pool through multiple source lists, underrepresentation of minority groups continues to be a problem for most courts. PLSC 382I 18 Jury Composition Challenges cont. If the summoning process excludes from the pool representative numbers of members of “cognizable groups,” the fair cross section goal is unconstitutionally compromised. “Cognizable group” has not been finally defined by the Supreme Court. Most lower courts have set forth four characteristics necessary for a group to be “cognizable:” Under these criteria, cognizable groups will be found based on race, ethnic ancestry, religion, and gender; sometimes found based on socioeconomic status, occupation, sexual preference (only in California), and geography; and almost certainly not found on the basis of age. PLSC 382I Group can be functionally defined, Group cohesion, Group has a demonstrably different social or judicial outlook, and Size of the group. 19 Jury Composition Challenges cont. Impermissible exclusion of members of cognizable groups can occur at several stages in the summoning process: Mounting a jury composition challenge is a major and costly undertaking for a litigant. Using source lists that underrepresent some cognizable groups, Not randomly summoning from the source lists, Making determinations that some summoned persons do not meet minimum qualification standards in ways that skew the pool, and Granting excuses from jury service that skew the pool First, the law on the subject is complex. Second, and more importantly, to attempt to provide factual proof of underrepresentation requires scrutinizing many months’ worth of jury pools. It is insufficient to show that a pool on any given day is unrepresentative, because that could be an aberrational result of an acceptablyperforming system.
PLSC 382I 20 Eliciting Information from Prospective Jurors
There are two ways of gathering such information: 1. Through written questionnaires Advantages over oral questioning: Questionnaires fall into two categories: Usually more information can be obtained. Questionnaires are efficient because the venire persons can fill them out without judicial supervision while the judge handles other matters. More respectful of the venire person’s privacy than having to answer questions in public in court. Answers may be more forthright and complete. Answers will not be affected by the answers other venire persons. Courts are increasingly using questionnaires in addition to oral questioning. Generic created by the court for every case ask for very basic information such: name, address, occupation, marital status, etc. Casespecific created by the parties and approved by the judge. PLSC 382I 21 1. Through oral questioning ("voir dire") 1. Eliciting Information from Prospective Eliciting Jurors conts.
Formats for voir dire vary from courttocourt and from caseto case even within the same court. Federal district courts lawyers submit questions to the judge, who then does the bulk of the voir dire. State courts – attorneys ask the questions. The main purpose of voir dire is to get info to use challenges, attorneys accomplish other goals: Establishing rapport with the panel members, Introducing the venire persons to the client’s version of the case, and Obtaining pledges from the venire persons.
PLSC 382I 22 Challenges for Cause Each party has an unlimited number of challenges for cause to remove impartial jurors. A venire person who is not impartial may be excused by the judge on the judge’s own initiative. If the judge does not do so, either party may challenge the venire person “for cause.” Most reasons for a forcause challenge is that the venire person: Knows one of the parties, the lawyers, the judge, or the witnesses. He/she has a preconceived notion that will interfere with his/her ability to fairly judge the case. Has life experiences from which bias can be inferred. PLSC 382I 23 The judge rules on this challenge. If the judge grants the venire person is dismissed. If the judge denies the venire person remains. Challenges for Cause cont. An opposing party often contests a grant of forcause challenges based on the venire person’s opinions or life experiences. Opposing party tries to “rehabilitate” the venire person by demonstrate that the venire person can fairly judge the case. Does this in hopes that opponent will be forced to use one of their limited number of peremptory challenges on that person. PLSC 382I 24 Peremptory Challenges A party does not need to give a reason, and The judge cannot prevent the party from exercising unless the judge believes the party is attempting to exercise the challenge solely on an unconstitutionally discriminatory basis—race, ethnicity, or gender. Each party has a prescribed number of peremptory challenges. Process for peremptory challenges takes one of two basic forms: Number varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Depends on the kinds of cases, and Can varies between the prosecution and defense (for crim. cases). “Sequential” (also known as the “seat and strike”) system and “Struck” system. PLSC 382I 25 Peremptory Challenges cont. Sequential System – number of venire persons in the jury box= number required for the trial. Struck System number of venire persons is = to the no. of jurors needed + total of all parties’ peremptory challenges. Each venire person is questioned Each party must decide to challenge at the end of the questioning of each person individually. If a challenge is successfully made, another venire person is seated. This process continues until no party has any challenges left. Venire persons are all questioned, Parties exercise their peremptory challenges at the end of the questioning of all the venire persons, Leaving the correct number of jurors for the case. PLSC 382I 26 Use of Trial Consultants Trial consultants Attempt to Improve communication in the courtroom, Analyze the decisionmaking processes of jurors, judges, and arbitrators. Test the impact of evidence and arguments with focus groups, trial simulations, simulations of arbitration procedures, and oral arguments. Identify arguments that need visual support and design the appropriate demonstrative exhibits. Provide assistance with witness preparation to enhance the impact of testimony. Design jury selection questionnaires and voir dire questions. PLSC 382I 27 Use of Trial Consultants cont. Some believe that trial consultants are detrimental to the justice system arguing that: There is no empirical verification that trial consultants can actually improve their clients’ prospects for success. Trial consultants argue that: Because trial consultants are expensive the wealthy have the greatest advantage, Trial consultant input does not produce impartial juries, Juries end up unfairly stacked in their clients’ favor. Wealth advantage is not limited to hiring trial consultants. Many provide services on a free or reducedfee basis to less wealthy litigants. Reduces litigation costs by helping the parties gain information to reach a settlement. Identifying venire persons who could not be impartial toward the client’s position is what the system expects parties to do. Reduces peremptory challenges based on impermissible reasons by identifying biases that are not dependent on those factors. PLSC 382I 28 Jury Powers Traditionally the jury is given two powers: (1) to decide the facts, and (2) to apply the law to the facts. The facts pertain to the who, what, when, where, why, and how? Jurors have a great deal of freedom in determining the facts. Listen to the evidence of each party concerning a disputed fact. Through deliberations, determine which version of a disputed fact they find more convincing. Often evaluating the credibility of witnesses. There is no particular approach for jurors to take during deliberations. Not required to explain the verdict, making deliberations mysterious. Rules of most jurisdictions establish that testimony about what went on in the jury room is usually inadmissible to cast doubt on the verdict. Due to the secrecy of the deliberations, it is often impossible to determine whether a verdict was arrived at rationally. PLSC 382I 29 Jury Powers cont. Several mechanisms are available to remove from jury consideration factual issues on which the evidence is entirely one sided, to avoid irrational findings by the jury. Summary judgments and directed verdicts (although the Constitution forbids theiruse against defendants in criminal cases). Trial judges have afterthefact mechanisms: Appellate courts have the power to overturn a verdict that is contrary to the great weight of the evidence . Judgments notwithstanding the verdict, Grants of new trials, Additur ordering a new trial unless the losing party agrees to an increase in the amount of damages awarded by the jury, and Remittitur ordering a new trial unless the winning party agrees to a decrease in the amount of damages awarded by the jury. Does not apply to criminal case acquittals, since Double Jeopardy Clause prevents retrial of an acquitted defendant, No matter how irrational the acquittal may have been.
PLSC 382I 30 Jury Powers cont. Jury nullification – when a jury intentionally ignores the court's instruction to accept and follow the law as it is give, and applies its own concept of what the law should be From colonial days through the middle of the 1800’s in civil cases, and through the late 1800’s in criminal cases, juries were instructed concerning what the law was, but were also instructed that they were free to determine the law differently. The practice of giving juries the freedom to determine the law died out in the 1800’s for at least three reasons: Desire for predictability, Increasing diversity of jurors who were unlikely to hold the same views of what the law should be, and Increasing professional role of judges and lawyers as “keepers” of the law. A jury never has the right to nullify, but it usually has the power to do so. Double Jeopardy Clause gives the jury an absolute power to nullify as to a criminal acquittal. Jury nullification is unlikely to be discovered and overturned when it results in criminal convictions and in civil verdicts. Since the 1800’s jurors in every jurisdiction have been instructed concerning what the law is, and are warned that they must apply it without questioning the law’s wisdom. PLSC 382I 31 Jury Powers cont.
Jury nullification Reasons why a jury might nullify in favor of a defendant in a criminal case: Jury feels that the criminal statute, while generally fair, is unfair as applied to the particular defendant in the case. Jury feels that the criminal statute is unfair when applied to anyone. Jury is protesting social injustices unrelated to the particular defendant or the particular law. Jury believes the prosecution has engaged in unscrupulous conduct during the case and should not be rewarded with a conviction even though the defendant is guilty. The jury has an irrational bias in favor of the particular defendant/ irrational prejudice against the prosecution. PLSC 382I 32 Jury Powers cont.
Constitutional limits on power to award punitive damages Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate an injured party in a civil case for actual losses. Punitive damages are additional amounts awarded to punish the defendant for unacceptable conduct. Most winning plaintiffs in civil cases are awarded compensatory damages, but relatively few are awarded punitive damages. Nonetheless, punitive damages awards that are viewed as “excessive” have loomed large in the public consciousness in recent decades. PLSC 382I 33 Jury Powers cont. Some state legislatures have enacted “caps” on punitive damage awards, and/or on non economic damages. Part of a larger “tort reform” agenda premised on the belief that juries have a tendency to award ...
View Full Document
- Spring '08
- federal court, fair cross section