Charge: To propose meaningful changes to be implemented via court rule or legislation, including, but not limited to (1) proposing any necessary changes to General Statutes § 51-232(c) which governs the confirmation form and questionnaire provided to prospective jurors, (2) improving the process by which we summon prospective jurors in order to ensure that venires are drawn from a fair cross section of the community that is representative of its diversity, (3) drafting model jury instructions about implicit bias, and (4) promulgating new substantive standards that would eliminate Batson’s requirement of purposeful discrimination.
Hon. Chase T. Rogers, Co-Chair
Hon. Omar A. Williams, Co-Chair
Hon. James W. Abrams
Hon. Joan K. Alexander
Hon. David P. Gold
Hon. Joette Katz
Hon. Douglas Lavine
State Representative Matthew Blumenthal
Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr.
Attorney Tais C. Ericson
Scot X. Esdaile, President
Ms. Esther Harris
Attorney Erik T. Lohr
Attorney Christine Perra Rapillo
Attorney Preston Tisdale
Attorney Harry Weller
Attorney Paul D. Williams
Hispanic Bar Association:
Attorney Charleen E. Merced Agosto
Yale Law School:
Attorney Anna Van Cleave
Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association (CDLA):
Attorney Glenn B. Coffin
American Bar of Trial Advocates (ABOTA):
Attorney Charles DeLuca
Quinnipiac University School of Law:
Professor Neal Feigenson
Quinnipiac Law School Student: Tobechukwu L. Umeugo
UCONN School of Law:
Dean Timothy Fisher
UCONN Law School Student: Hannah Kogan;
George Crawford Black Bar Association:
Attorney Aigné Goldsby, President
Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA):
Attorney James J. Healy
Connecticut Bar Association:
Attorney Claire M. Howard
Yale Law School Student: Taylor Withrow
Serving on a task force subcommittee or focus group
Hon. Robin L. Wilson
Attorney William M. Bloss
Attorney Daniel Krisch
Attorney Michael J. Walsh
Connecticut Asian Pacific American Bar Association:
Attorney Molly Arabolos
South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut:
Attorney Sheila Sinha Charmoy
Meeting Notice: The next Task Force meeting will be held on Monday, October 19 at 2:00 p.m. The meeting will be held remotely, via Microsoft Teams. Participants may join the meeting by video-conference or conference line. The meeting will be live streamed on the Judicial Branch’s YouTube page, so that members of the public may observe the meeting. To observe the meeting, please go to this link: https://youtu.be/W0bLVLjaWis.
|October 19, 2020||Agenda|
|September 4, 2020||Agenda||Minutes - Draft|
|July 14, 2020||Agenda||Minutes|
Data, Statutes & Rules: Dean Timothy Fisher and Attorney Claire M. Howard, Co-Chairs
This subcommittee will undertake a review of relevant statutory authority, including, but not limited to 51-232(c), and Practice Book rules, if applicable, that govern the confirmation form and juror questionnaire provided to prospective jurors, to determine if revisions to the confirmation form and/or questionnaire should be made in support of the Task Force charge.
As part of the review of the CT General Statutes and Practice Book rules, the subcommittee shall consider the feasibility of collecting juror demographic information. Currently, no demographic information is collected on jurors, and there is no way to determine the race of individuals that are actually appearing for jury service. The type and nature of juror demographic information will need to be discussed, taking into consideration the very limited information collected pursuant to 51-232(c) on the juror questionnaire. The Task Force should also examine, whether revisions through the legislative process to the type and nature of the juror demographic information sought, should be proposed. The subcommittee shall undertake an exhaustive review of the data collection practices in other states.
Juror Summoning Process: Ms. Esther Harris and Attorney Harry Weller, Co-Chairs
This subcommittee will undertake a review of the current process by which we summon jurors in Connecticut in order to ensure that venires are drawn from a fair cross section of the community that is representative of its diversity. This review shall include a study of relevant statutory authority including but not limited to qualifications of jurors as defined in 51-217(a), the summoning of jurors pursuant to 51-222a , and a review of the process used for gathering the source lists in preparation of the master file in accordance with 51-222a. Further, this review shall include a study of the available data. The subcommittee shall further study the source lists from which jurors are summoned in Connecticut and elsewhere, and also a review of the existing body of work on how other states summon jurors to ensure representative and diverse jury panels. Why are minorities so underrepresented on jury panels? What are the factors that prevent jurors from serving? Factors like economic hardships, such as employment, child care, transportation, and other more personal factors such as physical or mental disabilities and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) may adversely impact our jury pool in Connecticut.
Implicit Bias in the Jury Selection Process and Batson Challenges: Hon. David P. Gold and Hon. Douglas Lavine, Co-Chairs
This subcommittee will study the extensive body of work relating to implicit bias and its impact on the jury selection process. Implicit bias is everywhere and it exists both inside and outside the jury box. How does implicit bias impact our jury selection process and ultimately the jurors who are empaneled?
The subcommittee will examine how the court can play a role in addressing implicit bias through the use of peremptory challenges and the creation of model jury instructions.
In the discussion of peremptory challenges, the subcommittee should consider how their use may contribute to imbedding implicit bias in the jury selection process. Should peremptory challenges be eliminated or at least severely limited? Should jurors instead be “conditionally stricken” and their status revisited at the conclusion of the voir dire process? Through the study of practices in other states, the subcommittee shall give consideration to the feasibility and impact of judges presiding over the civil jury selection process and what impact their presence may have on the use of peremptory challenges.
When it comes to Batson challenges, most judges are loathe to make a finding of purposeful discrimination in concluding that the attorney in question has acted unethically and has willfully violated a potential juror’s constitutional rights. Further, the reputation, and integrity of the attorney may be called into question under the prongs of Batson, resulting in a referral to statewide bar counsel. This subcommittee will study all standards under Batson and whether the Batson rule should be divorced from the court’s requirement to find purposeful discrimination in upholding a Batson challenge.
Further, this subcommittee should examine whether in practice, Batson serves to contribute to the implicit bias and discrimination it seeks to overcome. Does Batson in fact encourage the voir dire process to look the other way and ignore the very issues of race, stereotype and discrimination it is designed to guard against? Consider, “The current Batson rule constitutes a placebo that purports to solve the problem of discrimination by juries but really focuses only on purported discrimination against jurors. Not only does it fail to address the real issues, it also actively distracts from them. The Batson rule represents the culmination of the [United States] Supreme Court’s desire to solve the intractable and unconscionable problem of racism in our criminal justice system by ordering everyone in the courtroom to ignore it.” T. Tetlow, supra, 56 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1946. The subcommittee will examine in detail, the relationship between Batson and implicit bias and make recommendations for sweeping and systemic changes to the jury selection process through a variety of remedies, including the legislative process and statutory revisions.
In developing model jury instructions, the subcommittee shall conduct focus groups with stakeholders to be identified, to determine how the model jury instructions can be drafted to educate jurors about implicit bias and how to avoid it in their deliberations.
Juror Outreach & Education: Hon. Joan K. Alexander and Attorney Charleen E. Merced Agosto, Co-Chairs
This subcommittee will review the current Jury Outreach Program, study jury related public service campaigns from other states, look at the feasibility of partnering with community organizations from minority communities, and study whether there is a role that community colleges and universities can play in educating our citizens about jury service. In addition the subcommittee will identify resources needed for an outreach program that specifically targets minority communities.
Jury Outreach & Education continues to be an important component of the jury process. Misinformation and negative perceptions of the criminal justice system can impact whether or not an individual will show up for jury service, particularly individuals from minority populations and those with LEP. As it is written, the statute requires that an individual summoned for jury service must be able to speak and understand English to serve on a jury. This subcommittee should explore whether this statutory provision warrants revision and how the availability of court interpreters in the voir dire and trial process might impact the diversity of potential jurors who appear for jury service.