Presentation on theme: "10 Most Significant Jury Related State and Federal Cases of"— Presentation transcript:
1 Thaddeus Hoffmeister www.juries.typepad.com 10 Most Significant Jury Related State and Federal Cases ofThaddeus Hoffmeister
2 Table of Contents United States Supreme Court: State Supreme Court: Thaler v. Haynes – Peremptory challengesPresley v. Georgia – 6th Amendment right to public voir direBerghuis v. Smith – Cross section of jurorsSkilling v. United States – Pre-trial publicityClyma v. Sunoco (10th Cir.) – Obtaining juror informationState Supreme Court:State v. Speer (Ohio) – Jurors with disabilitiesStephens Media v. District Court (Nevada) – Disclosure of juror questionnairesState v. Rhone (Washington) – Peremptory challengesDuffy v. Vogel (New York) – Jury pollingRusso et al. v. Takata (South Dakota) – Juror conducting research
3 Thaler v. Haynes Background: 130 S. Ct. 1171Background:Death Penalty case where two different judges presided over the voir direDefendant was denied Batson challenge to prosecutor’s peremptory strikeDefendant argued that pursuant to Batson and Snyder, judge could not deny Batson challenge because he was unable to personally observe demeanor of jurorTrial Court allowed strike – defendant convicted5th Circuit overruled pursuant to Snyder and Batson
4 Thaler v. Haynes130 S. Ct. 11715th Cir. – Judge must reject demeanor-based explanation unless judge personally observed prospective juror’s demeanorBatson – requires a judge ruling on an objection to a peremptory challenge to “undertake ‘a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial and direct evidence of intent as may be available.’”Snyder – Expansion of Batson: “Under Batson... an appellate court should find clear error when the record reflects that the trial court was not able to verify the aspect of the juror's demeanor upon which the prosecutor based his or her peremptory challenge.”
5 Thaler v. Haynes130 S. Ct. 1171Issue: Pursuant to Batson and Snyder, is there clearly established law which requires a judge to personally observe the demeanor of a juror when ruling on a demeanor-based peremptory challenge?Holding: NONo Supreme Court case establishes that a judge must reject a demeanor-based explanation absent first-hand observations of the juror being strickenReversed and Remanded (per curiam opinion)
6 Presley v. Georgia 130 S. Ct. 721 (2010) Background:Defendant’s uncle was asked to leave the court room at the start of voir direDefendant appealed his conviction arguing his 6th Amendment right to a public trial was violated as his voir dire was closed to the public
7 Presley v. Georgia 130 S. Ct. 721 (2010) Issue:Does the defendant’s 6th Amendment right to a public trial extend to voir dire?
8 Presley v. Georgia 130 S. Ct. 721 (2010) Holding: YESPress-Enterprise I and Waller hold that the 6th Amendment provides for voir dire to be open to the public absent special circumstancesDefendant not required to provide court with alternatives to accommodating the publicCourt did not rule on issue of whether the lower court had an overriding interest in closing voir dire to publicReversed and Remanded
9 Presley v. Georgia 130 S. Ct. 721 (2010) Dissent: (Thomas and Scalia)Court’s conclusion decides by implication an unstated premise – voir dire is part of the public trialIssue not previously decided by Court - Press-Enterprise I and Waller do not explicitly answer the question presentedUnwilling to decide issue summarily without benefit of briefingNeither Press-Enterprise I nor Waller places a burden on the courts to act sua sponte suggesting alternatives to closed proceedings – does not definitely express who must suggest alternatives
10 Berghuis v. Smith 129 S. Ct. 2160 Background: In 1993, an all-white jury in Kent County, Michigan convicted Diapolis Smith – an African American – of second degree murderHabeas petition arising from the 6th CircuitBerghuis examines 6th Circuit’s application of Taylor v. Louisiana and Duren v. Missouri
11 Berghuis v. Smith 129 S. Ct. 2160 Issue: Did 6th Cir. err by concluding Mich. Sup. Ct. failed to apply clearly established law when it rejected Smith’s 6th Amendment fair cross-section claim?Did 6th Cir. err by applying comparative-disparity test?
12 Berghuis v. Smith 129 S. Ct. 2160 Duren Test 3 prongs: (1) group is ‘distinctive’; (2) representation of group is not fair and reasonable in relation to the community; (3) underrepresentation is due to systematic exclusionComparative-Disparity TestCourt calculates percentage of otherwise eligible jurors from given group who are excluded from jury serviceAbsolute-Disparity TestCompares the number of excluded potential jurors to the overall population
13 Berghuis v. Smith 129 S. Ct. 2160Venire panel included 60 – 100 peopleAt most 3 were African AmericanGrand Rapids made up 37% of Kent County85% of Grand Rapids is African AmericanAbsolute Disparity6% (African Americans in jury pool) % (African Americans in jury-eligible population) = disparity of 1.28%African Americans underrepresented by 1.28%Comparative DisparityAbsolute Disparity (1.28%) / Eligible jury population (7.28) = 18%African Americans 18% less likely to be on jury service list
14 Berghuis v. Smith 129 S. Ct. 2160 Holding: Michigan Supreme Court’s rejection of constitutional challenge to jury panel being unfair cross section of community was a “[r]easonable application of clearly established Federal law”S. Ct. did not establish particular test to determine if a defendant’s Constitutional right is violated by a fair cross section of the communityTests are "imperfect" and can be misleading when viewed aloneReversed and Remanded
15 Clyma v. Sunoco 594 F. 3d 777 Background: Following an employment discrimination dispute between Clyma and Sunoco, Oklahoma Employment Lawyers Association (OELA) submitted “Application for Permission to Interview Jurors for Instructional Purposes”OELA sought to contact jurors for the purpose of educating members of the bar regarding jury dynamics of employment law cases
16 Clyma v. Sunoco 594 F. 3d 777 Issue: Whether the First Amendment requires that attorneys who did not participate in the underlying litigation be given access to jurors to assist them in the preparation of an educational program for the use and benefit of members of a professional organization?
17 Clyma v. Sunoco 594 F. 3d 777 Holding: 10th Circuit granted a limited writ of mandamus remanding the proceeding to the District CourtThe District Court denied OELA’s request for several reasons:OELA’s First Amendment rights are severely outweighed by the privacy rights of jurorsThe information was being gathered for educational purposes – not news gathering, which carries weighty First Amendment concernsCourts disfavor attorney contact with jurors post trial because of the need to: “(1) avoid harassment of jurors, thereby encouraging freedom of discussion in the jury room; (2) reduce the number of meritless post-trial motions; (3) eliminate a significant source of jury tampering; and (4) increase the certainty of verdicts”
18 Skilling v. United States No. 08-1394 Background:Texas federal district court convicted Jeffrey Skilling of conspiracy, securities fraud, making false representations to auditors, and insider trading. Mr. Skilling was the former C.E.O. of Enron Corp.Appeal arising from the 5th CircuitS. Ct. will determine whether, and to what extent, Skilling was prejudiced by the widespread media attention given to the Enron scandal
19 Skilling v. United States No. 08-1394 Individual Voir Dire (Attorney and Judge Conducted)--14 page questionnaire sent to 400 prospective jurors; 283 responded and 119 excused based on questionnaire--Not all jurors questioned by Defense CounselLength--Jeffrey Skilling 5 hours--Timothy McVeigh 18 Days--Zacarias Mousssaoui 14 Days--Dennis Kozlowski (former CEO of Tyco)7 Days
20 Skilling v. United States No. 08-1394 Issue:When jury prejudice arises due to widespread media publicity, must the defendant show actual rather than presumed prejudice and may the government rebut the presumption of prejudice?If rebuttable, what is the standard that no juror was actually prejudiced: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt or Preponderance of Evidence?Holding: To be determined
21 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584 Background: Speer faced various homicide chargesDefense counsel attempted to excuse prospective juror for cause due to a hearing impairment – motion deniedDefense counsel proceeded to exercise all four allotted peremptory challenges – did not exercise peremptory challenge on hearing impaired jurorHearing impaired juror was selectedSpeer was convicted
22 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584 Trial: During voir dire, the hearing impaired prospective juror indicated she reads lipsAt the trial, the 911 call was played for the jury – Hearing-impaired juror read the court reporter’s real-time transcript of the recordingBoth prosecution and defense relied upon Defendant’s voice tone and demeanor as evidence of his guilt/innocenceAppellate Court found the trial court abused its discretion by sitting the juror and reversed
23 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584 Issue: Did the appellate court correctly find that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Speer’s challenge of the prospective juror for cause due to her hearing impairment?
24 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584 Holding: NO Balance public interest in equal access to jury service against the right of the accused to a fair trialLatter is the predominant concern of the courtRight to fair trial requires jurors to understand all evidence presented at trialHearing impairment alone does not render prospective juror incompetent; however, when accommodations fail to enable a juror to perceive/evaluate evidence, Defendant is deprived of fair trialReversed. Trial Court opinion correct.
25 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584What to do when this situation arises again:Court must determine, in light of the specific evidence to be presented, whether any reasonable and effective accommodation can be made to enable the juror to serveWhen no such accommodation exists, the court must excuse the juror for cause
26 State v. Speer (OH) 925 N.E.2d 584 Dissent: During voir dire, juror was asked about hearing-impairment and informed court she can augment hearing with lip reading; thus, her handicap would not inhibit her ability to perceive and evaluate evidenceAccommodations were made:placing juror closer to the witnessesDuring 911 tape – juror read the court reporter’s transcriptDefense counsel did not raise concern about juror being able to interpret voice inflections, rather, only that juror is unable to hear all of the evidence
27 Stephens Media v. District Court (NV) 221 P.3d. 1240 Background:Due to celebrity status of O.J. Simpson and Charles Stewart, court ordered Decorum Order for pressJudge promised jurors that questionnaires would not be releasedPress sought modification to Decorum Order, seeking copies of blank juror questionnaires and those completed of jurors ultimately selected – Dist. Ct. denied requestAfter jury was seated, court allowed access to blank juror questionnaires; following an extraordinary writ, court ultimately permitted access to versions of completed jury questionnaires with redactions
28 Stephens Media v. District Court (NV) 221 P.3d. 1240 Issue:Whether juror questionnaires used in jury selection are subject to public disclosure?Issue is an exception to the mootness doctrine applied because the issue was capable of repetition
29 Stephens Media v. District Court (NV) 221 P.3d. 1240 Holding:Yes – 1st Amendment qualifies right by creating a presumption of openness that “may be overcome only by an overriding interest based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest.”Standard derived from Press Enterprise II
30 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Background: Rhone, an African American, was charged with 1st degree robbery, drug and gun possession, and bail-jumpingOf 41 jurors available, two were African American – one was stricken for cause and the other was removed later by the prosecutor’s peremptory challengeRhone challenges the constitutionality of the removal of the last African American juror, claiming it is, on its face, discriminatoryTrial Court found that prosecutor’s removal of the last African American venire member did not establish a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination
31 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Issue: Did the trial court err by ruling that the prosecutor's removal of the last African-American venire member failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination in violation of Batson?
32 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Batson standard: 3-part analysis Defendant must provide evidence of any relevant circumstances that “raise an inference” that peremptory challenge was used to exclude a venire member from the jury on account of the venire member's raceBurden shifts to prosecutor to come forward with a race-neutral explanation for challenging the venire memberCourt determines whether the defendant has established purposeful discrimination
33 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Holding: No. Trial court applied correct standard of review under Batson and trial court's determination that Rhone failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination was not clearly erroneousCourt rejected Rhone’s contention that a bright-line rule establishing a prima facie case of discrimination exists whenever a prosecutor peremptorily challenges a venire member who is the last remaining member of a racially cognizable groupRhone failed to raise any circumstances evincing evidence of discrimination – rather he only points out that there are no African American members on the juryAffirmed
34 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Dissent Court should adopt bright line rule that a defendant establishes a prima facie case of discrimination when, as here, the record shows that the State exercised a peremptory challenge against the sole remaining venire member of the defendant's constitutionally cognizable racial groupBenefits of bright-line rule outweigh burden of State explaining non-discriminatory reason for dismissal of jurorAfter Batson, it is unnecessary for a trial court to consider whether jury selection process involves systemic exclusion of venire members based on a discriminatory purpose – a single invidiously discriminatory governmental act is sufficient
35 State v. Rhone (WA) 229 P. 3d 752 Is this holding problematic? The Justices of the WA Supreme Court were deadlocked, however, the Chief Justice, cast her vote for the majority in a concurring opinion in which she agreed with the dissenting opinion, however, because the new rule only applies prospectively and not retroactively, it does not affect Mr. Rhone
36 Duffy v. Vogel (NY) 2009 NY Slip Op 2448 Background:Following a jury trial in a medical malpractice suit, plaintiff requested (but was denied) that the jury be polled to ascertain whether each juror consented to the verdict as read by the forepersonEach juror signed an 11-page verdict sheet containing 21 interrogatories; the jury’s response to the interrogatories had been unanimous, and during the foreperson’s recitation of the verdict in open court, no juror cried out in protest
37 Duffy v. Vogel (NY) 2009 NY Slip Op 2448 Issue:Is the denial of polling jurors following a jury trial harmless error permitting the verdict to be upheld?
38 Duffy v. Vogel (NY) 2009 NY Slip Op 2448 Holding: No.Right to a jury polling is absoluteThe request for a jury poll is a necessary condition of a ‘finished or perfected’ verdictIt is not sensible to expect that a juror, absent polling by the judge, would in open court spontaneously pipe up his or her disagreement with an announced verdictHarmless error analysis would be speculative - no court, may claim to know each juror's conscienceReversed – New trial granted
39 Duffy v. Vogel (NY) 2009 NY Slip Op 2448 Dissent:The “absolute” nature of the right does not imply that the denial of the right can never be harmless errorThe assertion that, where a request for a jury poll is not honored, the verdict is not “finished or perfected” is an abstraction – if logically followed through, a jury poll would be required, whether requested, or notThe possibility that a verdict would be upset by a jury poll is rareMany errors found harmless where the chance that the error determined the result was significantly greater than it is in this case
40 Russo, et al. v. Takata (SD) 2009 SD 83 Background:Wrongful death action brought against Takata – seatbelt manufacturer for GMAfter receiving summons, prospective juror (Flynn) conducted Google search to gather information regarding how many lawsuits had been brought against TakataDuring voir dire, it was not revealed that Flynn had conducted outside research beforehand – subsequently, he was selected to serve on the juryDuring deliberations Flynn conveyed his internet findings to 5 other jurorsNew trial was granted due to juror misconduct
41 Russo, et. al v. Takata (SD) 2009 SD 83 Questions asked to jurors:Russo’s counsel asked jurors extensively about their knowledge of the Russos, whether they were acquainted with the family, and howRusso’s counsel asked Flynn (juror conducting research) if any questions posed to other prospective jurors caused him to want to disclose anythingTakata’s counsel also questioned the panel extensively about past and current relationships with and knowledge of Takata“Okay, before you got here this morning, had anyone ever heard of Takata?” (Flynn did not respond)“Is there anything that we haven’t asked you about that you think is important for us to know or important for the Plaintiffs to know about you and the way that you’re approaching your job potentially as a juror in this case?”
42 Russo, et al. v. Takata (SD) 2009 SD 83 Issue:Does a remark made by a juror during deliberations based on information that juror knew before jury selection and could have been ascertained by reasonable voir dire constitute “extraneous information” upon which a trial court can set aside a verdict?Whether a rebuttable presumption of prejudice is created in a civil trial when extraneous information is brought to the jury's attention?Whether a juror's remarks prejudiced the jury's verdict against the Plaintiffs?
43 Russo, et al. v. Takata (SD) 2009 SD 83 Holding:Court found evidence extrinsic in nature as Flynn sought out information in response to the summonsExtrinsic evidence was relevant to facts in issue – whether Takata had notice of defective seatbeltsParty seeking to overturn verdict must show it was prejudiced by jury misconduct (Buisker v. Thuringer) – proper testPrejudice was possible – though conversation lasted only between 3-5 minutes, information was available to 6 jurors for 90 minutes of deliberations – a typical/normal juror could have been influenced given that statement directly contradicted evidence given at trialAffirmed
44 10 Most Significant Jury Related State and Federal Cases of 2009-2010 Questions