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Jury Systems

Three decades after complaints first surfaced about Latinos' being excluded from the county grand jury, Los Angeles County's presiding judge said Tuesday that he will create a second panel drawn from a more ethnically diverse pool of prospective jurors. Rather than being nominated or screened by a committee of Superior Court judges, grand jurors for the new panel will be drawn from voting lists and Department of Motor Vehicles registration rolls.
August 11, 2013 | Molly Hennessy-Fiske
The jury that will decide the fate of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of gunning down fellow soldiers at this central Texas military base, is an elite group of Army officers operating under a military legal system that must strike a delicate balance. Military law and courtroom rules strive to promote fairness to the defendant and free inquiry among jurors of varying ranks, despite constant reminders of the importance of rank, right down to the jurors' seating arrangements. Military law also guarantees that there will not be a hung jury.
July 18, 1994 | FRANKLIN STRIER, Franklin Strier is editor of the Journal of Business and Management in the School of Management at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Quorum Books is publishing his "Reconstructing Justice: an Agenda for Reform."
Speculation is rampant about O. J. Simpson's chances at the hands of a jury. But the debate over fairness, pretrial publicity, celebrity and so on misses the point. It is an enduring and profound truth that juries have never been reliable vehicles for the equitable resolution of trial court disputes. Here's why: * The American lay jury is a howling anachronism.
July 2, 2013 | By Patt Morrison
Well, that was a pretty pointless expenditure of tax money. Even some potential jurors said so. The 12 people who did wind up on a San Diego jury deliberated for five hours before they acquitted a man who chalked anti-bank messages on sidewalks in front of the banks. I hope deliberations lasted all of five hours because they were getting a free lunch. Jeff Olson was on trial on 13 misdemeanor counts of vandalism, which could have brought, at the absurd and unlikely extreme, 13 separate one-year jail sentences for the 13 occasions Olson chalked the sidewalk with messages such as “No Thanks, Big Banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.” Once or twice, he drew a tentacle octopus grabbing dollar bills.
Not long ago, Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard M. King, a homicide prosecutor, would have had an insurmountable problem with one of his murder cases--even though three people said Ehriberto Arcelara was the killer. Independently, the three had told Huntington Beach police that Arcelara, a drug suspect, killed a customer who had tried to steal his drugs. But all three refused to testify at Arcelara's preliminary hearing, held to determine if there was enough evidence to try him.
December 9, 1998
In a crackdown on jury scofflaws, 41 people were fined $1,500 each Tuesday for failing to appear in court to explain why they were no-shows for jury duty. The court fined those who had ignored several notices to appear to determine whether they were eligible to serve as jurors. Los Angeles Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Victor E. Chavez dismissed possible sanctions against 16 others who responded to the court order. Last week, Chavez fined 65 others.
The Orange County grand jury, which has been sharply criticized for its lack of ethnic diversity, will have a membership in the next fiscal year that is more than 40% nonwhite, the greatest percentage in recent years, if not ever. Orange County Superior Court officials had launched an aggressive recruitment campaign that widened the pool of potential minority candidates. Twenty percent of the 172 people who applied were members of minorities, most of them Latino.
October 4, 1994
You carried an article (Sept. 27) with the message that the majority of people don't like our jury system, and that we would be better served with a professional group of jurors, rather than our present legally unlearned citizens. Having served jury duty, I would say that I don't think it would serve to change anything other than the cost of the trials to have a professional juror class. Most juries follow the advice of the judge, and in his/her instructions to them, the judge will most times lead to and/or limit the decision reached by the jurors.
April 13, 1986
In a letter to The Times entitled "Jury Duty's Waste" (March 30), James Harris of Tustin airs his dissatisfaction with the jury process. In his cynical comment, Harris suggests that attorneys use their peremptory challenges as a way of extending trial time by "days, weeks or months" in order to further their "money-making schemes." While the author of that letter may have been called for jury duty, it is evident that he has never been summoned as a defendant in a lawsuit tried by a jury.
June 30, 1985
When I read "Liability Insurers Are Fleeing Field in Wake of Big Damage Awards" (June 17), I was disheartened. It appeared as if the reporter had spoken only with insurance industry special interests. The civil justice system is not "running amok." Awards are rendered by juries, which are composed of ordinary citizens who represent the community. The jury is the people and the people--not the judge, not the plaintiff's lawyer and not the insurance companies--render the verdict.
March 21, 2013 | By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times
Are you planning to watch HBO's "Phil Spector"? Then step into my cubicle. We need to talk. I'm just a reporter, so my opinions about film aesthetics don't add up to much, but as one of the only journalists to cover both of Spector's murder trials, I can tell you that this movie, which premieres Sunday, is a bomb factually. And in an era when millions depend on "The Daily Show" for their news and best picture nominees for their history lessons, that scares me. Most viewers will know very little about the Spector case, and when the program is over, their understanding will be deeply flawed.
June 27, 2009 | Yuriko Nagano
Jinko Takahashi stares with trepidation at the six oversized, black-cushioned chairs in a Yokohama District Court room. The 49-year-old has just finished a four-hour program designed to prepare citizens for Japan's new jury system. Like many potential jurors across the world, Takahashi is not particularly enthused about her potential fate. "To be completely honest, I don't want to be on a jury," Takahashi said, sighing.
March 1, 2008 | DANA PARSONS
Sonny Morper wasn't the least bit daunted when his Orange County jury mates voted him foreman as they prepared to decide whether a convicted pedophile should be released from a state hospital. A retired middle school principal from Lake Forest, Morper, a firm believer in the system, was pulling his first jury duty.
June 29, 2006
Re "The Web's yellow DNA," Opinion June 22 Jonah Goldberg argues that the Rodney King video shows that reality isn't captured by objective media, as the jury saw something different than the media-fed rioters. Instead of pinpointing a problem with objective media, Goldberg's example highlights a shortcoming of our justice system: a suspect jury made up of something other than one's peers agreed to ignore the obvious, probably because of their fears and prejudice. It wasn't the first time the jury system produced an unjust and incorrect verdict, and sadly, it won't be the last.
July 4, 2004
Re "Gang-Rape Case Ends in Mistrial," June 29: In commenting on the mistrial and hung jury in the Orange County gang-rape case, Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, states, "I wouldn't put too much stock in what one jury has to say." I can think of nothing more irresponsible and offensive to our justice system than to hear such a remark from a spokeswoman for the district attorney. The jury system is the hallmark of our justice system, and every jury's decision or nondecision is to be respected, regardless of the outcome.
December 6, 2003 | Elaine Steinberg
About six months ago I received a jury summons to the Beverly Hills court. I was so excited; 10 minutes from home; Nate and Al's for lunch; shopping. I eagerly awaited my "week" of service. There is a call-in system now. I called Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. The message was always, "Call back the next day." I called in Thursday, expecting the same. The message was, "You have been transferred to the Hollywood court. Please appear at 9:30 a.m. on Friday."
August 30, 2003
I'm 82. My eyes and hearing aren't as good as they used to be. Both knees need replacing. So today I reported for jury duty at 7:45 a.m., along with 61 other unlucky citizens. The elevators were out of order, so there were what seemed like a million stairs to climb. We all sat in a nondescript room till noon. We returned at 1:30 the next day for the remainder of this exciting procedure. If we do not return tomorrow I will be paid a total of 30 cents travel expense. (Jurors don't get paid the first day; that is probably why they'll draft a new group tomorrow.
June 4, 2003
I read with profound dismay the May 31 letters to the editor concerning how the jury system works. The right to a jury trial is one of the most fundamental constitutional rights, and one for which brave men and women died with their faces in the mud. Yet there are people who complain bitterly about the "inconvenience" of serving on a jury and feel that "jury service is something to be avoided." Part of being a citizen in a democracy is being "inconvenienced" to serve as a juror. The jury system ensures that everyone is given a fair trial by his or her peers.
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