Meet the Decision Makers: The Governor’s Key Advisors - December 13, 2021 REGISTER

NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka, Esq., will testify at the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Judicial Conference on Jury Selection next week in order present NJBIA members’ concerns at this event organized to address changes needed to improve the system for choosing jurors. 

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner will host the two-day conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 12 at the New Jersey Law Center, located at 1 Constitution Square, New Brunswick.   

The online Guide to the New Jersey Judicial Conference on Jury Selection notes that the current system requires substantially more potential jurors to report for jury selection because of the need to have a large enough pool in case all peremptory challenges are exercised. This results in more employees being called away from work to meet their jury duty obligations than is necessary. The Court is looking to better understand the impact this has on employers and the work environment.  

Examples of further issues to be explored include unconscious racial bias in the jury selection process, the disclosure of juror demographic data in the qualification process and a reconsideration of the number of peremptory challenges afforded in criminal trials that allow lawyers to dismiss potential jurors without having to state their reason for doing so. 

The conference was organized in the wake of the justices’ decision last summer in State v. Andujar, in which the Supreme Court upheld an appellate decision overturning a murder conviction because the prosecution had selectively run a criminal background check on a prospective juror who was Black.  The court found that implicit or unconscious bias had led to the background check and the juror’s removal, depriving the defendant of a fair trial. 

Siekerka is inviting NJBIA members to email her with their thoughts on improving the jury selection process at  msiekerka@njbia.org.