Accessing Jury Selection Data in a Pre-Digital Environment
41 Amer. J. of Trial Advoc. 45 (2017)
56 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017 Last revised: 28 Feb 2018
Date Written: June 7, 2017
Who should care more about who jury members are – the criminal defendant facing one or the public who is the watchful eyes over the government prosecutions? The answer is both, and equally. This Article is part of a series of papers that fill a substantial gap in the literature of jury selection by providing a positive, personal account with field data on how litigates pick a jury – the building of a robust and immense data set of jury selections for felony charges disposed of by jury verdict. One reason that litigates and scholars have not previously marshaled a clear understanding of jury selection realities is that the data has been surprisingly amorphous. A series of obstacles – legal, technological, organizational – meet at a crosshair to block researchers and obscure careful analysis. This Article describes the surprising challenges that scholars face from courthouse failings in office policies to the ongoing use of out-of-date technology and litigation that flies in the face of open access. It further explains novel research techniques innovated to meet those challenges and reflects on why it might be that our government generally lets this particular public record information go dormant.
This paper also looks to the current report produced by the Commission of the Administration of Law and Justice convened by N.C. Chief Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin, which details the current failings of courthouse and public record technology. The Technology sub-committee's findings directly parallel the changes faced by the data collection in the Jury Sunshine Project.
While most hold the decisions made within the courtroom in the highest regard, very little is actually known of the jury selection process. Theories and best practices engulf the academy and practicing bar, but only those entrenched in the courthouse can answer who is actually seated and who is excluded. The robust literature and academic discussions on the normative aspect of jury selection neglect these key empirical issues that government public records should be able to answer. An answer, the data, is key to the public trust of the government bodies, such as the judicial system, to open for inspection the decisions that are easily disposed of. This Article blazes the trail of data collection in jury selection.
Keywords: Jury Selection, Open Access, Data, ACIS, North Carolina Administrative Courts, North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, NCCALJ, Law, Justice, Technology
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