Author: James Strawn

$4.69 Billion Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson’s Talcum Powder

From: CNN

After 8 hours of deliberations Thursday, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who sued pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson alleging their ovarian cancer was caused by using its powder as a part of their daily feminine hygiene routine.

The jury award includes $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages. It’s the largest verdict against the company that has sold Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brand talcum powder for decades.
The jurors sat through weeks of testimony listening to experts who explained the complicated science, workers at Johnson & Johnson who said their product was safe. They also heard from the cancer survivors themselves and the loved ones of six plaintiffs who have died from their cancer.
This is not the first case brought against the company, nor will it be the last. There are thousands of cases currently making their way through court systems all around the country. In five of the cases, women who sued have had a favorable verdict. All of those cases are in various stages of appeal.
A jury ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor in one lawsuit in California last November. In October, a judge reversed two verdicts in favor of the company. A Missouri appeals court tossed out a $55 million verdict in June citing jurisdictional issues.
The science is still up for debate. Concerns about a link between talc and ovarian cancer started surfacing around 1971, when scientists wrote about finding talc particles embedded in ovarian and cervical tumor tissue.

How long should it take a jury to reach a verdict?

From: Times Union


The quips around the courthouse were it would take seven minutes to convict Jovan Underdue.

Others expected a longer wait – but not much longer.


The first-degree murder case against the 33-year-old defendant included a loaded handgun recovered under his girlfriend’s mattress with three fired bullets (all .38 caliber like those used in the murders); state drivers’ IDs and keys of the victims at his home; more .38 caliber bullets in a box at his home; surveillance video of him walking on Delaware Avenue near the crime scene; and the DNA of one victim matching blood found on Underdue’s shirt.

Then there was Underdue’s detailed three page-confession to Albany detectives in which he said, “I just lost control. There is no sugar-coating it … I took three lives.”

urors started deliberating just before 1 p.m. They reached a verdict by 4:30 p.m. And that was after they ate lunch. Under any estimation, it was hardly a long wait – and yet it was actually longer than some observers expected.

The evidence in the case was considered that strong.

Click here for FULL article.

Deliberations in the Jury Room – What really Happens


By: Janet Portman

Jury deliberations in a criminal trial are the stuff of drama and mystery: Drama because they come at the end of an often contentious trial; mysterious because what goes on behind the closed door to the jury room generally remains a secret. This article explains how jurors are instructed to interact, how they are treated during their deliberations, and what happens when, occasionally, the court needs to intervene.

A Juror’s Duty

People on a jury are instructed by the judge that they must deliberate with one another in an attempt to reach a verdict. Jurors are told to approach the case with open minds, and to change their minds if they realize they are wrong. Reaching a compromise verdict (in which some jurors support a verdict only in order to reach a conclusion) is a violation of the duty to deliberate. Deliberations cannot begin until all are present, and they cannot continue if someone leaves the room.

The Care and Handling of the Jury

Jurors are largely left to themselves to come and go during the trial, but once the case is submitted to the jury (following closing arguments and the court’s instructions), the jury is kept together, under the supervision of a court officer. The officer accompanies them to lunch and guards the jury room door while they are inside. Keeping the discussions during deliberations a secret will help prevent the jury from being influenced by outside considerations or informationTwelve Angry Men

Judges often admonish the jury every time it separates for the day, reminding them not to discuss the case with anyone else and to refrain from doing any independent research.

Click here for FULL article.


Juror Calling, Increase Juror Attendance


Juror Calling LogoWe are looking forward to participating in the National Association for Court Management Conference scheduled for July 22-26, 2018 in Atlanta, GA.

Please visit our display booth in the Exhibit Hall during the conference.

This year’s theme “Mind the Gap” will focus on the practical application of mindfulness to anticipate and respond to gaps in addressing issues facing the courts. Being mindful of these gaps can help court leaders identify ways in which we can improve our judicial system. Courts have direct impact on individuals and societal trends directly influence the work of the court system. Court leaders, therefore, look to consciously address gaps by improving business processes, optimizing resources, building a superior workforce, and providing exceptional services.

Evidence supports that conscious awareness increases employee engagement and allows for sounder decision making so that court leaders can engage in the development of programs, services, and activities that meet the growing demands placed upon the courts while upholding the rule of law and maintaining public trust and confidence.

Learn more about NACM here.

Learn more about Juror Calling here.

If you are a court administrator looking to Increase Juror Attendance, please contact us at 800-205-4848.

We hope to see you at the conference.

Five Psychological Principles of Jury Persuasion

From: At Counsel Table

By: Alex Craigie

It is no accident that Thomas Mauet’s Fundamentals of Trial Techniques is the best regarded textbook for trial advocacy, at least among professors and adjunct professors who use a text at all. I kept a fair number of my law school textbooks, but the only one I’ve consulted more than once in 20 years of practice is Mauet’s Fundamentals.

In his chapter on trial strategy, Professor Mauet introduces us to some basic psychological principles which come into play when presenting evidence and argument to jurors. I’ll highlight five good ones here.

1.  Jurors are primarily affective, not cognitive, thinkers. This is probably a huge generalization, but a useful one. Mauet writes: “People have two significantly different decision-making styles. Most people are primarily affective, not cognitive, thinkers. Affective persons are emotional, creative, impulsive, symbol oriented, selective perceivers of information and base decisions largely on previously held attitudes about people and events.”

Click here for FULL article.


What Really Happens if You Ignore Your Jury Summons?

From: Legal Zoom

By: Mariah Wojdacz

You know you’ve been tempted to do it – to toss your jury summons in the garbage and pretend it got lost in the mail. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like missing jury duty is a crime…or is it? Continue reading to find out what happens if you ignore a jury summons.

Failure to Appear for Jury Duty Cases

One person not likely to ignore another jury summons is Jermaine Dupri, CEO of So So Def Recordings. Dupri recently served a three-day jail sentence in Fayetteville, Georgia for missing jury duty in March 1999. With as much as 80 percent of the population shirking jury duty in some counties, more courts are starting to crack down.

In 2003, Massachusetts fined nearly 48,000 people $2000 each for missing jury duty, under new laws that criminalize repeat offenders. Los Angeles County has fined residents who failed to serve jury duty a total of over $940,000. New York County fined 1,443 jury dodgers in Manhattan $250 each.

Consequences of Ignoring a Jury Summons

Click here for FULL article.

What is Jury Nullification

From: Famous Trials

What is jury nullification?

Jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a verdict of “Not Guilty” despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding.

When has jury nullification been practiced?

The most famous nullification case is the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, charged with printing seditious libels of the Governor of the Colony of New York, William Cosby. Despite the fact that Zenger clearly printed the alleged libels (the only issue the court said the jury was free to decide, as the court deemed the truth or falsity of the statements to be irrelevant), the jury nonetheless returned a verdict of “Not Guilty.”
Jury nullification appeared at other times in our history when the government has tried to enforce morally repugnant or unpopular laws. In the early 1800s, nullification was practiced in cases brought under the Alien and Sedition Act. In the mid 1800s, northern juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of harboring slaves in violation of the Fugitive Slave Laws. And in the Prohibition Era of the 1930s, many juries practiced nullification in prosecutions brought against individuals accused of violating alcohol control laws.

More recent examples of nullification might include acquittals of “mercy killers,” including Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and minor drug offenders.

Click here for FULL article.


The Role of the jury

From: Citizen’s Information


The jury fulfils a very important function in the legal system. You are entitled to be tried by jury inless the alleged offence is a minor one or one that is being tried in the Special Criminal Court. However, a jury is not required in every legal case. There will be a jury in some civil cases such as defamation and assault cases. However, for the majority of civil cases such as personal injuries actions and family law cases, there is no jury – it is the judge who decides the outcome.

The jury consists of 12 members of the public who sit in a box to one side of the judge. One of the jurors is selected as a foreman of the jury by the members of the jury before the case starts. He or she acts as an informal chairperson and spokesperson for the jury.

The 12 jurors in a case are selected from a number of people who have been called to do their jury service on that day.

Section 23 of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 amended the Juries Act 1976 so that the jury can consist of up to 15 members, if the case is expected to last more than 2 months.

The jurors are charged with the responsibility of deciding whether, on the facts of the case, a person is guilty or not guilty of the offence for which he or she has been charged.

The jury must reach its verdict by considering only the evidence introduced in court and the directions of the judge. The jury does not interpret the law. It follows the directions of the judge as regards legal matters.

During all stages of the trial, jurors may take notes of proceedings. Jurors may also pass notes to the foreman or forewoman of the jury to ask the judge to explain certain aspects of the case.

Click here for FULL article.

NCSC accepting Nominations for G. Thomas Munsterman Award

From: National Center for State Courts

The Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts is accepting nominations for the G. Thomas Munsterman Award.

The award is named for G. Thomas Munsterman, founder and former director of the Center for Jury Studies and an internationally renowned innovator in jury systems and research. First presented in 2008, the award was established to recognize states, local courts, individuals, or other organizations that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations, or practices in one of the following categories: state or local statutes, rules, or other formal changes jury management or technology in-court improvements other improvements or innovations.

Nominations are being accepted through August 17, 2018.

Please click here to nominate and learn more. 

Happy Independence Day

From all of us at Juror Calling, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July Celebration.

Remember, freedom is not free.

Serving on a jury is a privilege.

Please enjoy family and friends this Independence Day.

Independence Day or July 4th—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.