The American Bar Association is expected to throw its weight behind a major revision of standards for jury procedure, according to the Aug. 10 National Law Journal. Most of the contemplated reforms are things we've been cautiously supportive of in the past, including wider latitude for jurors to take notes and ask questions, and continued adherence to the traditional standard of twelve-member juries and unanimity. Also being discussed is the single step that would probably do most to bolster public confidence in juror selection, namely cutting down on lawyers' use of peremptory challenges. Unfortunately, supporters of peremptories say they expect the panel to shelve that idea. And the panel is reportedly considering expanding the availability of for-cause challenges -- even though for-cause challenges in some situations give attorneys even more scope for gamesmanship, and for manipulating the composition of juries, than do peremptories. For more, see the passage of The Rule of Lawyers excerpted last year in Reason.
ABA to back jury reforms
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