A report [.pdf] released today by the National Center for State Courts and the State Justice Institute (both located in VA) has found that Connecticut takes the longest to pick juries for trials. According to the survey, CT (on average) takes 10 hours to pick a jury for a serious criminal trial and 16 hours for a civil trial. The next longest period is 5 hours for a serious criminal trial and that distinction to belongs to New York. The shortest time is half an hour (!!!!) and that dubious distinction belongs to South Carolina. Here’s the full table [excel file]
The NPR story I heard this morning said CT had the “dubious distinction” and this news story says “the wheels of justice…appear to move slower than any other state”.
Umm….what are you people smoking? Ten hours to pick a jury for a serious felony trial is too long? Please take away my license if I ever pick a felony jury in half an hour. Please. The more time you spend picking a jury, the better idea you get of the juror and whether you want that juror serving or not. I simply cannot see how or why this would be a bad thing.
Connecticut seems to be the only state that conducts voire dire on an individual basis. I like that. I like having the juror one-on-one, where I can take my time and ask them personalized questions. The system where they are all asked the same questions at the same time seems a bit…well, rushed.
Here’s another interesting find: In South Carolina, the judge asks most of the questions during voire dire and Connecticut is again at the other end of the spectrum, with the attorneys doing most of the questioning. Here’s the rest of that table [excel]
Sorry, I gotta say I’m pretty darn glad with these results. Keep up the good work, Connecticut.
PS: The report itself does not make any statements about what is good and what is bad; it merely reports the data. The data is fascinating, so give it a read. There’s much more than what I’ve touched upon here – how many jurors can take notes, how many do take notes, mean ratings of evidentiary complexity, mean deliberation time. When I’ve had more time this evening to read through the report in detail, I might add to this post.