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Jury System

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By Jim Haner and Jim Haner,Sun Staff Writer | April 9, 1994
Most of them are black women and several have been victims of violent crimes. One had her throat cut by a rampaging ex-husband. Another lost a niece to a sniper who was later shot by police marksmen.Meet Baltimore's grand jury.Their names are a secret. But they took part last month in a Baltimore police seminar to better understand the pressures officers face when they pull the trigger.That alone made it all the more surprising this week when panel members asked prosecutors to draw up murder charges against two officers in the fatal shooting of a convicted drug dealer in what homicide detectives said was a clear-cut case of self-defense -- then changed their minds 17 hours later.
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NEWS
By Peter Hermann peter.hermann@baltsun.com | March 21, 2010
L aureano V. Lozano lives on Alan Tree Road in White Marsh, near a suburban mall and a 16-screen theater. His Baltimore County address didn't stop him from getting a summons this month for jury duty in Baltimore City, even though city juries are limited to city residents by law. James W. Gray's address is listed on Sinclair Lane on the city's east side. He died two years ago, but that didn't stop him from getting a summons for jury duty in Baltimore this month. To critics of the way state court officials pick potential jurors at the downtown Baltimore Circuit Courthouse, Lozano and Gray are just two examples of a broken system that repeatedly calls on the dead and missing to pass judgment on the guilt and innocence of their peers.
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NEWS
By WILEY HALL | August 1, 1995
In Baltimore last week, a predominantly African-American jury acquitted a young African-American man of the murder of a young Korean-American student -- even though the evidence seemed to point overwhelmingly to the defendant's guilt.Moreover, the defense lawyer in the case said he had approached prosecutors about the possibility of a plea bargain. But the victim's family asked the prosecution to reject any such proposal.The verdict quickly attracted national attention for two reasons: It seems to illustrate the presence of anti-Korean bigotry among some in the black community, and it reinforces our eroding confidence in America's jury system.
NEWS
By Peter Hermann | peter.hermann@baltsun.com | March 5, 2010
Some people have lived in Baltimore for decades and have never been summoned to jury duty. Others have lived here just a few years and seem to get the notices as frequently as annual tax bills. Frank M. Conaway, the clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, is tired of the complaints. He said dead people have been called to pass judgment on their fellow citizens, and summonses have been delivered to empty lots and to addresses of people who moved years earlier. And so Conaway - a one-time mayoral candidate - is now trying to stage a legislative coup at the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
NEWS
By Dennis O'Brien and Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer | May 16, 1995
An Edgewater lawyer filed suit yesterday to change Anne Arundel County's highly touted one-day jury trial system, alleging that it places an unfair burden on criminal defendants.Harvey S. Wasserman alleges that an administrative regulation put into effect in 1992 as part of the one-day jury system prohibits District Court defendants from requesting jury trials before their trial dates.The suit says the regulation forces defendants and their witnesses to go to a District Court to ask for a jury trial, then to a Circuit Court on the same day.The suit names Judge Robert F. Sweeney, chief judge of the Maryland District Court, as a defendant.
NEWS
March 7, 1993
The trial of Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford has begun -- with hi jurors on trial. Some may even feel intimidated. Three dozen demonstrators marched outside the U.S. courthouse in Memphis show support for the accused black congressman. The leader of the group said he expected no violence "if this process goes properly."The problem with the process is that the jury is composed of 11 whites and one black, all from another jurisdiction. A federal judge ordered the jury chosen from outside Memphis, which is heavily black.
NEWS
By MIKE ROYKO | March 10, 1995
This hasn't been a very good week for those who believe that there is something sacred about the American jury system.In the O.J. Simpson trial, another juror has been tossed out for violating the judge's instructions on how jurors should behave.At the rate jurors are being replaced, Judge Lance Ito could run out of warm bodies before the trial is over, and they'll have to start over again. If that happens, even animal lovers will begin hating the legendary barking dog.Also in California, another judge blew his cork when he learned that jurors in the trial of Heidi Fleiss, the enterprising young woman who provided horny guys with female companions, made up their own rules.
NEWS
By DAN RODRICKS | September 19, 2004
I KNOW HOW to improve the jury system in Baltimore -- junk it. Let's admit failure and move on to something else. Really. It's the grown-up thing to do at this point. The average citizen doesn't want to be bothered, and there are so many people blowing off jury duty that city judges felt they had to come up with "incentives" to motivate more citizens to come downtown for the experience. Here's what the judges came up with: 1. Free soft drink at any of five restaurants near the courthouse (with purchase of a sandwich)
NEWS
By Del Quentin Wilber and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF | April 18, 2000
In what court officials say is the most comprehensive study of the jury system conducted in Maryland, a state committee recommended yesterday sweeping changes to an institution that has changed little in centuries. In a 19-page report, a committee of judges, lawyers, legislators and former jurors said state officials need to make jury service easier and more understandable for the average citizen. Recommendations include: Allowing jurors to ask witnesses questions during trials. Expanding the jury pool from voter registration and motor vehicle lists to include unemployment and public utility databases.
TOPIC
By Barbara Frye | March 12, 2000
I FEAR THAT somewhere in Southwest Baltimore, there's a woman I owe an apology. Her son was murdered, and there's a real chance that I let the killer go free. In January, I was a juror in the trial of a young man accused in the shooting death of another young man a year earlier, after the two had fought over the rights to a drug sale. About the only facts we had were that the victim had been shot at very close range five times in the face and once in the back of the head. He was found lying on the sidewalk, clutching two $5 bills but with more than $250 in his pockets.
NEWS
August 21, 2008
Witness intimidation in Baltimore had become such a threat to prosecuting criminals that State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy led a campaign to better protect witnesses. She has personally delivered copies of the bootleg video Stop Snitchin' to state lawmakers to emphasize the seriousness of the problem. Mrs. Jessamy has had to rely on federal prosecutors to go after some accused murderers and accomplices whom city juries just won't convict. Increasingly, her prosecutors have faced tough odds in trying to convict criminals.
NEWS
By Frank M. Conaway | March 29, 2005
FEW OPERATIONS of the court system have been of greater concern to me than the steady decline in the quality of treatment provided to Baltimore citizens who are called to serve as jurors. By now, it must be obvious to most of our citizens that the method used to determine who is summoned for jury duty is seriously flawed. Every jury in Baltimore City should be made up of a fair cross-section of our citizens identified through the records of the Motor Vehicle Administration and the Board of Supervisors of Elections.
NEWS
By Stephanie Hanes and Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF | November 16, 2004
Forget the fact that it is essential to our democratic system. For most citizens, jury duty is something to dread and, if at all possible, avoid. Especially when the federal trial is set to take 10 weeks. During summer vacation. That was the situation facing a few hundred Marylanders who packed a courtroom in Baltimore one sunny day in June, as described in recently unsealed transcripts. Those picked for jury duty would spend the next 10 weeks in court, listening to dense financial testimony in the trial of Nathan A. Chapman, the Baltimore investment manager charged with fraud.
NEWS
September 25, 2004
City jury system must be given a total overhaul I agree with Dan Rodricks' criticism of the incentives proposed to attract jurors (such as free soda, $4 parking and Juror Appreciation Week) ("Coupons won't cure what ails city jury system," Sept. 19). Incentives will not attract jurors. Only a system overhaul will. I was first summoned to jury duty in December 2003 to serve on a jury in January 2004. I requested sign language interpreters since I am hard of hearing and would need them to participate effectively in jury trials.
NEWS
By DAN RODRICKS | September 19, 2004
I KNOW HOW to improve the jury system in Baltimore -- junk it. Let's admit failure and move on to something else. Really. It's the grown-up thing to do at this point. The average citizen doesn't want to be bothered, and there are so many people blowing off jury duty that city judges felt they had to come up with "incentives" to motivate more citizens to come downtown for the experience. Here's what the judges came up with: 1. Free soft drink at any of five restaurants near the courthouse (with purchase of a sandwich)
NEWS
April 22, 2004
Jury system is biased, abusive to city dwellers As a lifelong resident of Baltimore, I read with interest and dismay The Sun's article about problems with the Circuit Court jury system ("No-shows stretching thin city's shrunken jury pool," April 19). While the points it makes are valid, the article describes only a part of the problem. The current system is discriminatory and abusive to prospective jurors. As a white professional, I have never been selected for a jury after more than 30 years of summonses.
NEWS
By Myron Beckenstein | October 9, 1994
Rodney King I, Imelda Marcos, the Menendez brothers, the Branch Davidians -- the visible examples of something wrong with our jury system come too numerously to mind.How can cases like these happen time after time? Is it that the jury system is hopelessly flawed and that its day has passed? In Britain, only 5 percent of all criminal cases and 1 per cent of all civil cases are handled by juries now.But in America, we are much more likely to dispense with the wisdom and prejudices of judges for the humanity and prejudices of a collection of our fellow citizens.
NEWS
By Lisa Goldberg and Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF | October 15, 2002
The crime was make-believe and the proceedings were rushed and incomplete, but for the six Russian judicial officials sitting in a Howard County jury box yesterday, the mock trial still offered an enlightening glimpse at the future. This bit of theater - complete with lawyerly posturing and pacing, attacks on credibility and a judge who managed to stay above the fray - was intended to give the Russians a chance to observe the workings of an American trial by jury as they prepare to launch their own jury system.
NEWS
By Lisa Goldberg and Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF | October 15, 2002
The crime was make-believe and the proceedings were rushed and incomplete, but for the six Russian judicial officials sitting in a Howard County jury box yesterday, the mock trial still offered an enlightening glimpse at the future. This bit of theater - complete with lawyerly posturing and pacing, attacks on credibility and a judge who managed to stay above the fray - was intended to give the Russians a chance to observe the workings of an American trial by jury as they prepare to launch their own jury system.
NEWS
By Lisa Goldberg and Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF | October 15, 2002
The crime was make-believe and the proceedings were rushed and incomplete, but for the six Russian judicial officials sitting in a Howard County jury box yesterday, the mock trial still offered an enlightening glimpse at the future. This bit of theater -- complete with lawyerly posturing and pacing, attacks on credibility and a judge who managed to stay above the fray -- was intended to give the Russians a chance to observe the workings of an American trial by jury as they prepare to launch their own jury system.
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