No, your dad can’t be a juror


The SJC decided a criminal case Tuesday in which the defendant asserted various claims of error with respect to jury selection.  The Court rejected arguments about taint and bias:  while various potential jurors appeared to know some potential witnesses, and/or had read some articles about the case, no tangible prejudice had been articulated.   (The trial took place in Washington County, so the fact that there were overlapping acquaintances was hardly unusual.)

Another argument the defendant asserted was that the trial court shouldn’t have automatically rejected the father of the defendant’s attorney as a juror.  The SJC gave this argument short shrift on appeal.  Hence, it appears that the SJC will presume that Dad likes you enough that he really shouldn’t be sitting on the jury when you do your lawyer thing.  This seems like a pretty reasonable position for the SJC to take.

Another part of this decision has a useful discussion on the difference between impermissible prosecutor closing argument articulating a personal opinion, and appropriate closing characterizing the evidence.  Perhaps the most egregious violation of evidentiary (and ethic) rules in tv land is when the earnest prosecutor inevitably starts using first person lingo, talking about his personal opinions (as well as his life story).  No, no, no.  On the flipside, however, as Justice Clifford noted (citing a Justice Clifford article), it is fine for prosecutors to use "wit, satire and invective" to make their point.  Let’s hope that the prosecutors who do so have better writers than most of those tv folks.