Publicity and Jury:Mid-Trial Publicity: Right to Voir Dire

David A. Szwak

Publicity and Jury:Mid-Trial Publicity: Right to Voir Dire

Postby David A. Szwak » Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:03 pm

Mid-Trial Publicity and Voir Dire

Voir dire of jurors is necessary regarding effects upon jury of mid-trial media publicity only if serious questions of possible prejudice could arise because of publicity. United States v. Aragon, 962 F.2d 439, 444 [5th Cir.1992]. To determine whether serious questions of possible prejudice could arise because of trial publicity, district court must perform two-step inquiry: first, court must look at nature of media coverage and determine whether it raises serious questions of possible prejudice; and second, court must weigh likelihood that damaging material has in fact reached jury. United States v. Herring, 568 F.2d 1099, 1104-05 [5th Cir.1978]. Factors influencing first inquiry for determining whether serious questions of possible prejudice could arise because of trial publicity, i.e., nature of publicity, include timing of media coverage of trial proceedings, nature of material disseminated, and its potential effect on legal defenses; factors influencing second inquiry, i.e., likelihood that damaging material has reached jury, include significance of media coverage and nature, number, and regularity of warnings from judge against viewing coverage. U.S. v. Martinez-Moncivais, 14 F.3d 1030 [5th Cir. 1994] [Tex.].

District court was not required to voir dire jury concerning exposure to mid-trial publicity about defendant's criminal record and applicability of federal "three-strikes" law, where articles about trial were brief factual accounts, references to defendant's record and potential sentence were not specific, jury was already aware of one prior conviction due to charge of possession of firearm by felon, defense counsel agreed that instructions to disregard would suffice, and jury in fact was admonished repeatedly to disregard all media accounts of trial and to ignore issues of punishment during deliberations. U.S. v. Rasco, 123 F.3d 222 [5th Cir. 1997] [La..].

Return to “Jury Questionnaires, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Bias”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests