Why Not Show Jurors Edited Videotapes?
July 08, 2011, 02:28 PM
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During my adult lifetime, there has been some improvement in how potential jurors are treated by court systems. When I was first summoned for jury duty by Cook County in the 1980s, potential jurors were treated like cannon fodder. They`re basically free to the court system, so their time was wasted by stupid inefficiencies. By a decade later in Cook County, potential jurors seemed to be treated better. In Los Angeles County, it`s still clear that jurors come last in priority in the court system.

Here`s a 1992 letter-to-the-editor in the NYT by a citizen named Robert E. Lupinskie suggesting videotaping trials without juries, then showing the juries the edited videotapes without all the disallowed testimony, sidebars, adjournments, and other time-wasting. Serving on a jury takes up a lot of days because the judge and lawyers work on other cases in the morning and afternoon when the trial is not in session. For example, on the trial I served on, we would normally be told to show up at 10 in the morning, but often the judge was conducted a very serious looking hearing with a defendant in a different case shackled to the defense table, so we`d go sit in the jury room until 10:30 or 11:00. We`d take 90 minutes for lunch and be out by 4:00. We didn`t work very hard, but we were there a long time. Testimony in that trial lasted something like 9 business days, but we could have watched all the proceedings on edited videotaped in 3 or 4 days, working 7.5 hour days.

I can`t think of any obvious reason this would be worse than the traditional system and several reasons why it would be better.