David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: April 12, 1999
|Report Urges End to Mandatory Jury Sequestration|
|NEW YORK - Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman released
today a report to the Chief Judge, the Legislature and the Governor on
Separation and Sequestration of Deliberating Juries in Criminal Trials.
This is the second report since 1995, when the Legislature first allowed judges the discretion not to sequester juries except in cases involving a Class A felony offense or a Class B or C violent felony offense, where sequestration remained mandatory. A report was issued on March 1, 1997, which analyzed the law's impact until that date. The law, set to expire on March 31, 1997, was subsequently extended to June 30, 1999. This report analyzes the impact of the law since the March 1997 report.
The report released today demonstrates yet again the effectiveness of the legislation: to date, the State has saved approximately $3.5 million, and some 15,000 jurors have been spared the burdens of overnight sequestration. The elimination of mandatory sequestration has produced more representative jury pools and there has been an overall improvement in the jury experience. The predicted negative impact - more mistrials and increased costs - simply did not occur.
In light of these conclusions, the report recommends making the current legislation permanent in all criminal trials with the exception of capital cases.
Chief Judge Kaye said, " I am delighted that this comprehensive report
has shown that after four years of successful implementation the time has
come for the Legislature to enact permanent legislation allowing judicial
discretion concerning jury sequestration. We have made remarkable progress
over the past several years in improving the jury experience. This report
demonstrates that removing mandatory sequestration in all criminal trials
except capital cases is the logical next step."