For Immediate Release - August 14, 2014

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Committee to Examine Juror Voir Dire

BOSTON, MA -- The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court today announced the formation of a committee that will examine the jury selection process in the five Trial Court departments that conduct jury trials. 

The new committee will examine issues relating to the selection of jurors in all trial courts that conduct jury trials, and consider possible amendments to both criminal and civil rules to improve the quality of juror voir dire and promote the right to a fair and impartial jury. Voir dire is part of the jury impanelment process in which prospective jurors are questioned before being chosen to sit on a jury. In light of the recent enactment of a law providing that in Superior Court trials the court, upon request, shall permit an attorney or self-represented litigant to ask questions of prospective jurors within reasonable limitations set at the court's discretion, the committee also will work in conjunction with the Superior Court to develop and recommend procedures for implementation of the new statute before the effective date of the statute in February, 2015.

Chaired by Supreme Judicial Court Justice Barbara A. Lenk, the committee includes judges from the five Trial Court departments that conduct jury trials, representatives from bar associations, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and professors from the academic community with expertise in jury selection. The members of the committee are:  

Committee Chair: Supreme Judicial Court Justice Barbara A. Lenk
Committee Members:
Professor David J. Breen, Boston University School of Law
Professor R. Michael Cassidy, Boston College Law School
Honorable John P. Corbett, Juvenile Court
Honorable Judith Fabricant, Superior Court
Honorable Serge Georges, Jr., Boston Municipal Court
Honorable Jennifer L. Ginsburg, District Court
Honorable Peter Lauriat, Superior Court
Assistant District Attorney Mark Lee, Massachusetts District Attorney's Association
Carolyn I. McGowan, Esq., Committee for Public Counsel Services
Douglas K. Sheff, Esq., Massachusetts Bar Association
Mark. D. Smith, Esq., Boston Bar Association
Honorable Jeffrey Winik, Housing Court
Commissioner Pamela Wood, Office of Jury Commissioner