Monday, March 9, 2020

ARTICLE: Judgeless Jury Selections: A Troublesome Trend

Here is a LINK to an article of mine that has been published in the March/April 2020 edition of The Pennsylvania Lawyer Magazine entitled "Judgeless Jury Selections:  A Troublesome Trend."

The article analyzes the relatively recent troublesome trend of judges routinely leaving the bench during jury selection after giving a short speech to the jurors about the trial process and then allowing the attorneys to conduct voir dire by themselves.

A number of cases that have gone up on appeal over issues surrounding the fact that the trial judge left the bench for voir dire.  In one such case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recommended that trial court judges should remain on the bench.  In another case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that it is not required that the trial court judge remain on the bench for voir dire but that, if the judge left the bench during that process, a different standard of review would have to be utilized on appeal to address any issues raised with respect to jury selection. 

This issue is now poised to be decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the Trigg case, which is currently pending before that Court.  The parties in that case argued the issues presented back on October 19, 2019 and await a decision.

The article reviews a number of reasons in favor of trial court judges remaining on the bench during the course of jury selection in order that certain appellate issues could be avoided as a result.

I send thanks to Patricia Graybill, the Editor of The Pennsylvania Law Weekly, for agreeing to publish this piece.

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