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NEWS

Short Update: New in-person jury settings in the US raise question about fairness of the proceedings

FairTrialsAdmin - June 12, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Court closures, Remote Justice

US States have begun holding in-person jury trials again but the new settings to mitigate the COVID-19 risk raise questions about fairness and due process.  

Jurors are wearing masks, making it difficult to pick up on the fleeting smirks or scowls that normally tip off to bias. Masks also hinder efficient client-lawyer communication. Social distancing can also mean jurors have to spread  out of the jury box behind the defendant lawyer. One could also question the representativity of the jury if it does not include groups hit harder by COVID-19, like older residents, African-Americans and Latinos. The public has been told to stay at home and many courts have declined to livestream proceedings because they could be recorded. 

Some States went a step further: Texas for instance has decreed that judges need not seek consent before conducting remote proceedings, and while the state has not yet conducted a remote criminal jury trial, it has experimented with jury selection by Zoom in a civil dispute. 

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more  information  please email us at [email protected].  

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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