News & Notes
Challenge to Achieving Fairness in Civil Jury Selection
“This paper identifies multiple challenges that courts face to achieving fairness in the selection of juries in civil cases. Achieving representative cross-sections of the community in jury venires, and ensuring that our civil juries reflect the community as well, are essential components contributing to the fairness and legitimacy of our civil justice system. Although legal rules and practices attempt to maximize fair and representative juries, the courts encounter substantial difficulty in achieving this important goal. Problems arise in summoning citizens for jury service, in questioning them during voir dire, and in exercising peremptory and for-cause challenges. Systematic empirical research on representativeness and new psychological studies on implicit and unconscious bias raise questions about the efficacy of current jury selection procedures. This paper identifies these problems and the challenges they present for producing representative and fair juries.” (Pound Civil Justice Institute 2021 Forum)
Biden Administration supports legislation giving nursing mothers more workplace rights
“The Biden administration on Monday said it is backing a bill that could give millions of new mothers more workplace rights when they pump breast milk.” [read more]
Finally, some good news. We are now seeing the return of jury trials in the Daley Center. In northern Illinois every suburban county has seen at least one multi-defendant jury trial in the last 60 days. Central Illinois has been conducting jury trials with increasing frequency. Federal court is also planning for the return of civil jury trials next month. ITLA has been following the progress of civil juries statewide. The data we have compiled showing the safe return of trials will continue to be used as evidence to support their safe and rapid return where it meets resistance. Thank you to everyone who sent in information about their own recent jury trials and what and which COVID-19 precautions were instituted.
We have already seen the return to jury trials will not be seamless. There have been some impractical approaches by the judiciary that result in impossible scheduling difficulties. We are communicating with judicial leaders to ensure they are aware of these issues. [read more]
The light at the end of the tunnel is here. After months of lockdowns and other safety precautions which precluded jury trials from occurring with any real frequency, the doors to the courthouse are re-opening. Just last week our Supreme Court issued two orders designed at re-activating circuit courts. One order removed the tolling of the computation for speedy trials in criminal cases, and the other (M.R. 30370) empowered the chief circuit judges to relax or eliminate social distance requirements based upon local conditions. Both orders can be found on the Supreme Court website here. As the percentage of fully vaccinated state residents continues to increase, we should anticipate a return to a “new” normalcy. I can ensure our membership that as president I will work with all interested parties to work toward a safe and rapid return to a fully functioning civil justice system. [read more]