CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, April 5, 2021

Newton on Capital Jury Selection

Samuel Newton (University of Idaho) has posted Getting to Know You: An Expanded Approach to Capital Jury Selection (Tulane Law Review, Vol. 96, 2021-2022) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Colorado Method of capital jury selection is a widely-embraced strategy defense attorneys use in voir dire, in which attorneys rank each juror exclusively on the likelihood that the juror will vote for life or death. The method has some problems. It is not fully public. Discussing punishment prior to guilt also predisposes juries to vote for death. It inadequately addresses innocence cases. Nor should we reduce jurors to their views or positions on the death penalty. While capital juries are already predisposed to give death sentences, scholars have determined that numerous case-specific and juror-specific factors—such as a defendant's willingness to express remorse or the juror’s views or racial experiences—significantly affect jurors’ votes. I review research findings from the Capital Jury Project and other studies, concluding that capital defense attorneys are better served by questioning and ranking jurors on a much broader set of factors. I propose that with more information in hand, defense attorneys can improve their ability to rank jurors and select a jury more inclined to impose a life sentence.

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