Every Monday and Wednesday of this month, I’ve been reporting to Criminal District Court here in New Orleans for jury duty. While I haven’t been picked yet, sitting in the courtroom or the jury box for voir dire has been educational. When the whole thing is over and my comments can’t be tied to any particular case, I may post something about what the lawyers did right and did wrong—from the potential jurors’ perspective. Meanwhile, I have these two observations:
First, it appears that our still relatively new D.A., Leon Cannizzaro, is pushing more cases to jury trial. The last time I had jury duty at Criminal District Court (about 4 years ago), most days I never was called from the juror lounge to a courtroom. This time, I’ve gotten into the courtroom and into the jury box all but one day. So from this admittedly narrow perspective, it seems that more cases are going to trial under this D.A. compared to his predecessor.
Second, while lawyers should not be immune from jury duty, we really should get CLE credit for it. Whatever kind of law you practice, you get a refresher in criminal law and procedure. And perhaps more importantly, you observe the lawyers’ work from the jurors’ perspective. That education is probably far more valuable than any lecture or PowerPoint presentation you sit through.