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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

CrimProf Nancy King on the Sleeping Juror Problem

King_1 From a press release:  "The judge presiding over the Enron Internet trail started a coffee habit just to keep from drifting off. Jurors, lawyers and journalists regularly close their eyes, and a court officer once actually had to jostle awake a guy in the front row. Experts acknowledge that as much as 90 percent of courtroom proceedings can be overwhelmingly dull. "The average person doesn't realize how tedious evidence can be," [Vanderbilt CrimProf] Nancy King told reporter Mary Flood of the Houston Chronicle.  King, who surveyed hundreds of judges about 10 years ago, found that 69 percent of the jurists she surveyed said they'd had a juror nod off in the previous three years.  According to King, judges usually left it up to the lawyers to deal with the dozer. "After all, it was (the lawyers) that put the juror to sleep," King wrote of the judicial attitude.  However, King said there are many steps judges can take to try to keep courtroom denizens alert: take frequent breaks, limit witness testimony, let jurors take notes and keep the room cold.""  [Mark Godsey]

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