Pros And Cons Of Sequestering Trial Juries

1382 words - 6 pages

The first case of jury sequestering in America occurred in the week or so long trial of the Boston Massacre in 1770. In the twentieth century, jurisdictions began to move away from mandatory sequestering of juries. Previously, in both criminal and civil cases, jury sequestering was mandatory. Now sequestration is on a state-to-state basis. In most states, sequestering of the jury is no longer mandatory even in capital cases.

Due to the excessive media coverage of this case, I do believe the jury should be sequestered. Kobe Bryant is a very high profile athlete with many supporters as well as those who believe he is guilty. A sequestered jury would benefit both the prosecution and defense. The isolation of the jury would help to ensure a fair trial by preventing exposure to prejudicial publicity. In a jury trial, the evidence the jurors use to render a verdict should come only from the prosecution and defense. Such evidence is protected by the "Rules of Evidence" enforced by the judge. This case also presents special circumstances due to the "Rape Shield Law" a non-sequestered jury will be exposed to evidence not allowed by law at the trial that could prejudice their verdict. In a trial with the notoriety of the Bryant, trial sequestration also makes sure jurors are not pressured by the views of others they might come in contact with in the general public. Finally, sequestration protects jurors from threats that might be made by people trying to influence the verdict.

On the other hand, sequestration can be very expensive. There were jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial who reported psychological harm because of the separation from their families due to sequestration. With sequestration, a representative jury might not be established because only certain types of people can be sequestered for an extended period of time. Sequestration may also cause a jury to rush to judgment.

Although financially costly, a judge must look at whether the benefits of sequestration outweigh the costs. Media publicity has played an important role in decisions to sequester juries in previous high profile cases examples being, the trials of O.J. Simpson, Charles Manson, and Pattie Hearst. Not all media publicity is prejudicial; prejudicial publicity however can occur when the media discusses inadmissible evidence, when commentators evaluate the evidence, and when the public sentiment is so passionate that it might influence the jury. There has been so much publicity already focused on this case and it has not yet gone before a jury. I feel that simply instructing the jury not to watch new broadcasts, read newspaper or discuss the case is not enough to ensure a fair and speedy trial with an impartial jury guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America.

According to Colorado rape shield laws evidence of specific instances of the victim's or witness' prior or subsequent sexual conduct, as...

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