Bias in the Box. "This is where Bryan Stevenson’s 'undeveloped understanding' comes into focus. A prosecutor may say with the utmost sincerity that he doesn’t exclude blacks [from a jury] because of their race, but because they or someone in their family has been a victim of discrimination, which leads them to distrust the system. Because of their experiences, they are believed to be less motivated to sentence someone to die and are therefore less desirable on a jury." (slVQR) [more inside]
Twelve Absent Men: Rebuilding the American Jury. "Juries hear only 4 percent of criminal trials in America. Their decline has fostered radical punitiveness, but reforms and novel institutions are breathing new life into the jury and civic participation more broadly."
The crime against women that no one understands "They would be 10 educated, professional women versus a demonstrated liar—a man who had pretended to be a doctor, a CIA employee, even an astronaut—whom a court-appointed psychologist would decide met the legal definition of a "sexually violent predator." And yet the most remarkable thing about both trials wasn't the way they exposed the alleged tactics of a serial date rapist. It was that despite the outrageousness of the accusations against Marsalis, the testimony of 10 women wasn't enough to get a single rape conviction against him. The verdicts in these cases would be far lighter than his accusers sought—and victims' advocates say the outcome reveals a disturbing truth about the justice system. Nationwide, despite all the legal advances of the past three decades, little has changed for women who report a date rape. Because in far too many instances, juries don't believe date rape exists."
The perfect location for the perfect crime. Due to a loophole in the US Constitution there is an area of Yellowstone Park where you may be able to get away with a major crime. U Michigan Prof Brian C Kalt looks into this loophole and gauges your chance at success. Someone has tried. [more inside]
Scott Horton at Harpers.org writes about Julian P. Heicklen, a 78-year-old retired chemistry professor from New Jersey, now faces federal criminal charges for informing people entering the federal courthouse about the doctrine of jury nullification. Scott Horton's post is a response to the New York Times column on Mr. Heicklen. [more inside]
Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages ‘mutiny’. 'A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week. Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt. They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel. No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.'
Jury nullification, a situation in which jurors acquit in a criminal trial even if the facts favor conviction (often because the jurors disagree with the law), is of ancient provenance in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Courts are ambivalent towards it, regarding it both as quasi-illegal (they'll remove jurors if they catch them during the attempt) and as something that they cannot overturn once it happens. Nullification has furthered many causes, from anti-death-penalty to pro-southern-lynchings. Lawyers can't mention it in court on pain of contempt, but some hope to educate people in other ways.
The first criminal trial without a jury to take place in England and Wales in more than 400 years begins tomorrow. [more inside]
With that meeting, Mr. Allo took his first step into an intricate trap. The deeply strange tale of one very determined woman's quest to overturn her son's conviction for murder.
Laywer/novelist Scott Turow (non-wp, non-reg-req. link) and Nat Hentoff discuss the DOJ's decision to release a declassified document detailing the possible charges against Jose Padilla, at the same time as the U.S. Supreme Court nears a decision on the constitutionality of holding Padilla without due process ... "So at this point, you have no plans to present any of this to a grand jury?"
Terrorists should be tried in front of military tribunals instead in civilian courts in front of juries.