The Firm hosted a CLE program in its New York Office on Thursday, May 16, titled "Jury Trial Innovations: A Frank Discussion Among The Bench, The Bar, and A Jury Consultant On Improving The Trial Process."
The program was co-sponsored by the Federal Bar Council, the Downstate NY Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the NYU Law Civil Jury Project. Harold Gordon, a partner in the Firm's Business & Tort Litigation Practice who is based in the New York Office, organized, moderated and hosted the event. The robust discussion covered a number of proposed changes and innovations in civil jury trial procedures – from jury selection through the end of trial – that have been proposed, written about, and to varying degrees implemented by state and federal judges. The overall goal is to improve jury comprehension and deliberations, and to bolster the general perception of, and confidence in, the jury trial process. The discussion encompassed various proposed jury trial procedural innovations such as:
- Time limitations on each party’s evidentiary presentation at trial;
- Greater attorney control over voir dire, including in federal civil trials;
- Use of case-specific jury questionnaires;
- Jury instructions at the start of trial to provide jurors with a legal framework for the evidence they will hear;
- Permitting jurors through the judge to ask witnesses questions after trial counsel examines a witness; and
- Having trial counsel provide interim arguments, or having the judge provide interim instructions, before each new phase of trial to better orient juries on upcoming evidence.
The panelists included Southern District of New York Judges Jesse Furman and Lorna Schofield; New York State Court Commercial Division Judge Tim Driscoll; Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck; trial lawyer Steve Susman; former Southern District of New York Criminal Division Chief Lisa Zornberg; jury consultant Josh Dubin; and Firm partner Kerri Ruttenberg.
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