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The Jury Box (Edward P. Schwartz) – The Red Well

The Jury Box (Edward P. Schwartz)

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Jury Selection in Mattapan Massacre Case

January 25th, 2013|

Starting in the summer of 2012, I was retained by attorney John Amabile to assist him with jury related issues in the retrial of Dwayne Moore, accused of killing four people and seriously wounding a fifth in a drug-related shooting in Mattapan, Massachusetts (a neighborhood of Boston). One of the victims was a two-year old boy and the victims were marched outside naked before they were shot, execution-style. Needless to say, the case engendered an enormous amount of publicity.One of the initial co-defendants cut a deal with the district attorney's office, in return for his testimony. This man, Kimani Washington,

Samsung Hard-pressed to Get Second Bite at Apple

October 8th, 2012|

Samsung Digs Up Grounds for AppealThis past week, it was revealed that Samsung had filed an appeal of the verdicts of of patent infringement in the celebrated case filed by Apple. Given the enormity of the verdict and its potential consequences for Samsung's ability to compete in the mobile phone and tablet market going forward, no-one is surprised that an appeal was filed, and filed quickly. What has surprised some is the grounds for the appeal: namely that at least one juror in the case was guilty of misconduct. Much of the focus has been on the jury foreman, Velvin Hogan, against

Federal Courts Address Wave of Online Jurors

August 30th, 2012|

This past week, the new model jury instructions about online research and social media communication by jurors were released. You can read the new instructions here. While they are quite explicit and forceful, they are weak on an important element. Research into the effectiveness of limiting jury instructions has shown that such instructions can only work if jurors are given a rational (but not condescending) explanation for why the instructions are in place. This is why instructions to disregard evidence of a lie detector test (the science is just not very reliable yet) tend to be heeded, while instructions to

Will Wonders Never Cease?

August 29th, 2012|

Jury Consulting in Criminal CasesTraditionally, only a select few criminal defendants have employed jury consultants. Those who have typically fall into three distinct categories.1) Really rich people and celebrities (who are usually really rich). These folks can afford to hire the most expensive lawyers and also pay for a variety of trial support services. If ever you needed proof that jury consulting is valuable, pay close attention to the fact that every criminal defendant who can pay for it does pay for it. 2) Accused murderers facing the death penalty. Because judges receognize that the stakes are very high in

Exciting News!

June 15th, 2012|

Dear Followers of the The Jury Box,It is with great excitement and anticipation that I write today to tell you all that I have recently accepted a position with TrialGraphix, the nation's premier full-service litigation consulting firm. The company website can be found at trialgraphix.com.TrialGraphix, as its name would imply, is known for unparalleled design and execution of courtroom graphics and animation. Many of you know my views on the importance of visual learning among jurors, so I am thrilled to be associated with a firm at the cutting edge of that field. Now, I can not only make recommendations

Who should sentence Tarek Mehanna?

April 12th, 2012|

Today, Judge George O'Toole holds a hearing to determine the appropriate sentence for Tarek Mehanna, the Sudbury man convicted in January of providing material support to Al Qaeda and seeking terrorist training in Yemen.Read the Boston Globe story about the sentencing hearing here.This case is fascinating on many levels and I have written multiple blog entries about it over the past two years. (Find Jury Box Blog posts on the case here). The jury determined that posting pro-Al Qaeda material online could constitute "material support" and that the dangers associated therewith overrode any Free Speech protections. It is important to

What’s brewing with Tea Party Jurors?

April 10th, 2012|

But What About my Needs?Back in the fall, I was running focus group research in an undisclosed location, in preparation for an undisclosed case, scheduled for an undisclosed trial date. (See how I did that? I just made my completely mundane case seem much more interesting by refusing to tell you anything about it.) Truth be told, the case details are irrelevant for the purposes of this post, except for the fact that it involves a consumer protection dispute.I always have my focus group participants complete an extensive written questionnaire before the study begins. Think of the supplemental juror questionnaire

The Weaponization of Belief: Tarek Mehanna Guilty on 7 Terrorism Charges

January 5th, 2012|

Guilty on All CountsLate last month, a federal jury in Boston, after only 10 hours of deliberations, found Tarek Mehanna guilty on all seven counts for which he had been charged. They included conspiracy to kill Americans abroad, lying to federal investigators and, most controversially, providing material support to a terrorist organization (Al Qaeda).Two sets of acts proved central to the case against Mehanna. The first was a trip he took with another man to Yemen in 2004, allegedly to seek training at a terrorist camp. His companion continued on to Iraq and remains at large. The second was a

Can Tarek Mehanna Take the Fifth… and the First?

December 12th, 2011|

The Protected Free Speech DefenseThe terrorism trial of Tarek Mehanna has been going on in Federal District Court in Boston for about a month now. (Find my prior blog posts on the trial here.) Jay Carney, Jr., and the rest of the defense team, have built their defense to charges of supporting Al Qaeda around the First Amendment right to free speech. While the defendant might have said, written, posted, blogged and translated some items that most Americans would find repugnant, the Bill of Rights specifically protects the right of any American to do just that. The defense contends that

Jurors as Interpreters: When Facts Aren’t Facts

October 31st, 2011|

The Interpretive Role of the JuryThe Tarek Mehanna Terrorism trial is compelling drama, revealing about our homeland security efforts, and instructive about America's uneasy relationship with Islam. It is also a case that implicates some of the more fascinating and troubling aspects of the American Jury System.In our USC Interdisciplinary Law Review article, "And So Say Some of Us...: What to do When Jurors Disagree," we begin with the premise that, in a large number of criminal cases that actually go to trial, material questions are put to jurors about which reasonable people could disagree. That is, the failure to