Jurors in New England

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Governor S. Cranston
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Jurors in New England

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:09 pm

In CivPro2, we went over voir dire and the Rules about juror picking last week.

So jurors have to be a representation of the cross-section of the community, right? Courts in New England are county-based, but everyone lives in a specific town or city.

Suppose there's a criminal case for sake of having a consistent plaintiff. We're in Worcester County Superior Court. Defendant is from Fitchburg. Do all the jurors come from Fitchburg, or could they come from anywhere within Worcester County, like say Worcester or Warren or Sturbridge?

Or, say there's a criminal case in the District of Vermont. Defendant is from Barre. Do all the jurors come from Barre, or could they come from anywhere within Vermont?

I ask because most of the professors at my school practiced in NY or DC, not locally. Also, having jurors from only one town would mean more homogeneous jurors, but the same county/state would mean more diverse juries.

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Nony
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Nony » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:24 pm

Federal jurors come from everywhere in the district (I clerked in a big district, area-wise, and people from the other ends of the district would get put up in hotels for jury duty because driving 3-4 hours each way every day wasn't practicable).

State jurors will come from everywhere in the county.

Think of it this way - the court having jurisdiction is also the court picking the jurors, so where they come from will match the reach of the court's jurisdiction.

Governor S. Cranston
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:31 pm

Nony wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:24 pm
Federal jurors come from everywhere in the district (I clerked in a big district, area-wise, and people from the other ends of the district would get put up in hotels for jury duty because driving 3-4 hours each way every day wasn't practicable).

State jurors will come from everywhere in the county.

Think of it this way - the court having jurisdiction is also the court picking the jurors, so where they come from will match the reach of the court's jurisdiction.
Thanks, I figured this would be the case. Less chance of a biased juror.

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Nony
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Nony » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:45 pm

Some of it's just logistics. You can't make up a full jury pool on any regular basis out of small towns. And just because the defendant is from, say, Fitchburg doesn't mean they committed the crime in Fitchburg (you frequently get defendants tried in jurisdictions that they're not from).

Governor S. Cranston
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:35 pm

Nony wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:45 pm
Some of it's just logistics. You can't make up a full jury pool on any regular basis out of small towns. And just because the defendant is from, say, Fitchburg doesn't mean they committed the crime in Fitchburg (you frequently get defendants tried in jurisdictions that they're not from).
Hence the use of Information Charging. Harder to get 16 to 23 people together in order to start the process.

I am curious if counsel will strike jurors based on where they're from. For instance, if you have a more urban defendant in a criminal case, do you use peremptory challenges to strike the jurors from rural or suburban areas that lean more conservative? Conversely, striking urban, liberal jurors if the defendant is rural?

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Nony
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Nony » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:04 pm

There are lots and lots of considerations when figuring out who to strike. I think "where they're from" is less pertinent in a vacuum than other factors. "Urban" can be code for a lot of things but if your defendant is just from a city I don't think that's super influential. If, say, your defendant has face/neck tattoos, yeah, you might not want a lot of prosperous burghers from the burbs on your jury. Or if the case involves a drug deal that took place in inner city projects, again yeah, you might prefer urban jurors (but then again you might not, because people who have to live in projects could have a lot more animus against drug dealers in their community). In a gun possession case though you might want rural jurors who are more likely to own guns. Or you might have juror X who's from a rural area but works in a rehab center who you might want to keep in a drug case (or maybe not). Or if it's a white collar case and the prosecution's theory is going to involve "city slicker bilks rubes," yeah, you might not want rural jurors. It depends a lot on the case.

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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Governor S. Cranston » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:17 pm

Nony wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:04 pm
There are lots and lots of considerations when figuring out who to strike. I think "where they're from" is less pertinent in a vacuum than other factors. "Urban" can be code for a lot of things but if your defendant is just from a city I don't think that's super influential. If, say, your defendant has face/neck tattoos, yeah, you might not want a lot of prosperous burghers from the burbs on your jury. Or if the case involves a drug deal that took place in inner city projects, again yeah, you might prefer urban jurors (but then again you might not, because people who have to live in projects could have a lot more animus against drug dealers in their community). In a gun possession case though you might want rural jurors who are more likely to own guns. Or you might have juror X who's from a rural area but works in a rehab center who you might want to keep in a drug case (or maybe not). Or if it's a white collar case and the prosecution's theory is going to involve "city slicker bilks rubes," yeah, you might not want rural jurors. It depends a lot on the case.
I was thinking about this. Let's say the defendant is from New Hampshire and gets arrested in Mass for possessing without a license. Defendant is white, from a small town on the border. If D is being tried in the Middlesex County Superior Court, you could easily get a juror or two from Cambridge, which is the Mecca for progressiveness in Mass. Cambridge juror goes bye-bye, assuming that juror is strongly anti-gun/liberal.

But if you get say a Hispanic or black defendant from Lowell or Lawrence arrested in NH for gun possession by a felon, you'd want to strike the rural, 99% white town, MAGA jurors. Get the more sympathetic jurors.

But if you have a self-defense situation, or a guy shooting at a trespasser, you'd definitely want the rural jurors. But not for poaching or some fish and game violation (maybe... depends).

I can't wait to take trial advocacy :lol:

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Nony
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by Nony » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:25 pm

Yup, that's pretty much the kind of stuff to consider.

(Sorry to say that my trial advocacy class didn't really cover voir dire/jury selection - maybe you'll get luckier than I did.)

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MJB
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Re: Jurors in New England

Post by MJB » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:44 pm

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