Saturday, December 9, 2006

In Massachusetts, Prosecutor's Dinner With Jury Shows Lack of Judgment Non Obstante Veredicto

Posted by Alan Childress

Interesting story Friday in the Boston Herald, "Prosecutor Partied With Jurors:  Conduct After Cape Trial Raises Judgment Questions."  Two days later he was confirmed as a state judge.  The defense attorney, appealing, "declined to comment on the party, but said he was not invited." 

On Saturday, the paper reported the clarification by one juror that this was no party and jurors wanted answers from the prosecutor about process, sequestration, a booted juror, and the appeal.  To me, this public defense of the prosecutor does not help that much:  regardless of who initiated 446122_highland_light the meeting and the sincerity of the jurors' desire for information, the clarification does demonstrate that they were having substantive communications. 

Whether or not that quite equals unethical "inquir[ing] of a juror concerning the jury's deliberation processes," it is not the role of the trial prosecutor to have substantive dialog with jurors in any event or assure them that the excused juror would not be prosecuted.  To which a juror told the newspaper, “She was a big loss . . . but not a holdout,” referring to the booted juror.  I don't see how jurors resisted volunteering similar scoop at dinner--when so easily offered to reporters--and that would then equal deliberative content. 

But in any event it is hard to understand how readily the DA and others are defending the prosecutor-turned-judge (wouldn't they howl if it were the defense attorney?). Just because jurors initiated the talks and bought their own drinks? Just say no.

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