Patterico's Pontifications


Buying Jurors

Filed under: Law — The Angry Clam @ 2:27 pm

[Note this is a guest post by SoCal Lawyer. It does not reflect the opinions of Patterico, his employer, etc.]

This month’s California Bar Journal highlights a cutting edge issue: defense lawyers who, following a mistrial, hire the first trial’s jurors as consultants for the re-trial. My thoughts? It smells to high heaven and threatens to corrupt our entire system. Here is a snippet from the California Bar Journal:

When Riverside attorney Joseph Cavallo heads to the courtroom at the end of this month for the retrial of a young client accused of taking part in a gang rape, he hopes to be armed with the wisdom of the 12 jurors from the deadlocked first trial. Like many lawyers, Cavallo is debriefing the jurors, who leaned heavily toward acquittal. But unlike those other lawyers, he is paying the jurors for their observations, much to the disgust of the prosecution.

Paying jurors amounts to “an outrageous attack on the integrity of the jury system,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told the Orange County Register in July. “This signals to the next jury, if they vote (in favor of the defendant), they can get paid.”

Sour grapes, responded Cavallo. Prosecutors are just frustrated because “they were too lazy” to think of corralling the jurors themselves. Cavallo said he talked to a State Bar attorney who said that paying jurors, however unusual, did not violate any legal code. “Tell me the best focus group,” the defense attorney challenged, “ — the jury that sits through the trial.”

When will the California legislature stand up and ban this type of conduct before it grows to be a big, big problem?

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