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CCE Jury Panel: Changing Perceptions About Jury Service

At its June Board of Directors meeting, CCE sponsored a panel discussion entitled “Changing Perceptions of Jury Service,” moderated by Court Improvements Committee Chair Jay Hulme, and featuring CCE Board Director Paulette Chapman of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court for DC, and Professor Andrew Ferguson of the David A. Clarke School of Law at UDC.

Mr. Hulme contextualized the panel focus by talking about CCE’s long history with jury reform. He contrasted the public reaction in popular media and press, to jury service as negative, with it being a powerful experience for citizens that actually sit on a jury. Then he proceeded to cover three themes – the relevancy of juries to our justice system; perspectives about citizens’ interest in the jury system; and the District’s changing demographics and what that might mean for jury service – through a series of stimulating questions and thoughtful responses from each member of the panel.

At the end of the discussion, Mr. Hulme announced CCE’s new Jury Project, a comprehensive examination of the issues related to the perceived burden of jury service in DC, using as a blueprint our ground-breaking 1998 DC Jury Project report which made 32 recommendations for improving the DC jury system. The new project will not only cast a current eye on those recommendations, but will also address issues that did not exist 15 years ago, such as the potential of technology and social media to improve juror summoning and utilization and its potential to influence juror deliberations; the changing demographics of DC and who is being summoned for jury service; and encouraging greater public understanding of, and appreciation for, jury service.

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