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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93476 Find in a Library
Title: Statement of Stephen S Trott Before the Senate Subcommittee on Courts Concerning Examination of Prospective Jurors on March 7, 1984
Author(s): S S Trott
Corporate Author: US Dept of Justice
United States of America
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislative Hearing/Committee Report
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An assistant attorney general from the Criminal Division summarizes reasons underlying the Department of Justice's (DOJ) opposition to S.386 and S.677, which would change current Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure to mandate a counsel-controlled voir dire in jury selection.
Abstract: At present, the court controls the extent of the Government's and defense's participation in voir dire, and the vast majority of Federal judges have preferred to conduct voir dire themselves. The DOJ believes that this practice has proven to be fair and economical and feels that adopting a counsel-controlled process would be a grave and costly mistake. The DOJ is unaware of any serious allegations or evidence that the prevailing Federal practice has failed to protect parties' rights to an impartial jury. In contrast, empirical studies and commentators on experiences in New York State and California, which have rules similar to those proposed in the Senate bills, have concluded that attorneys abuse voir dire in many ways. Moreover, counsel-controlled voir dire consumed far more scarce court time than judge-controlled voir dire. Bills to adopt judge-controlled voir dire are now pending in the New York Legislature and reflect a current trend away from voir dire conducted by attorneys. While the Senate bills allow the court to impose reasonable limitations on voir dire by attorneys, experience in States with such rules has shown that judges often decline to exercise these powers for fear of committing errors that may lead to reversal. In the year ending June 30, l983, 9,769 juries were selected in the Federal courts. This already strained system cannot cope with massive and costly delays in the selection process that might be caused by a change in the voir dire rules. Eleven footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Jury selection; US Senate
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