Archive | jury selection

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Circuit Says SDNY Jury Selection Is “Trivial”

United States v. Gupta, No. 09-4738-cr (2d Cir. June 17, 2011) (Walker, Parker, Hall, CJJ)

Anyone who has ever selected a jury in the Southern District knows that the typical voir dire there is a perfunctory affair indeed: a few questions about potential bias, a few about household composition, then you exercise your challenges and open after lunch. Perhaps that’s why the panel majority here held that the exclusion of the entire public for an entire SDNY voir dire was covered by the circuit’s “triviality exception” to the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

Before jury selection began at Gupta’s immigration fraud trial, the district court closed the courtroom to the public, preventing – at a minimum – Gupta’s girlfriend and brother from attending. The court acted without notice to the parties and, when later called upon to do so, gave two reasons for the closure: the need to …

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Categories: jury selection, public trial, Uncategorized

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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Gender Contender

United States v. Paris, No. 08-5071-cr (2d Cir. September 17, 2010) (Jacobs, Wesley, Chin, CJJ)

This interesting Batson decision deals with gender-based peremptory challenges, a subject that the circuit has not previously discussed.


For about five years, Dennis Paris ran a multi-state prostitution ring centered in the Hartford, Connecticut, area and recruited teenage girls to work for him. He was charged with criminal sex trafficking and conspiracy offenses, and took the case to trial.

Before jury selection, his attorney notified the district court that Paris would exercise peremptory challenges primarily against women, because he believed that male jurors would be “fairer to Mr. Paris than female jurors will be.” Sure enough, after the challenges for cause were resolved, Paris used his first four peremptory challenges against women. When the government registered a Batson objection, defense counsel conceded that gender was “absolutely” one of the reasons for the strikes.

The …

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Categories: Batson, jury selection, Uncategorized

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Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Shipping Bricks

United States v. Bermudez, No. 06-5119-cr (2d Cir. June 17, 2008) (Walker, Calabresi, CJJ, Underhill, DJ)

Richie Bermudez was convicted, after a jury trial, of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, he challenged an evidentiary ruling, as well as the district court’s jury selection method.

The Evidentiary Ruling

Police officers were watching Bermudez on the street in a high-crime area of the Bronx. The officers were in an unmarked car, and three of them overheard him tell an associate that he had “fresh bricks back at his apartment.” Shortly thereafter, they saw him open the trunk of his car and give a gun to someone named Delgado, at which point both were arrested. Delgado pled guilty to gun possession, was sentenced to seventy months’ imprisonment, and did not appeal.

Bermudez went to trial, and his first jury hung. At the retrial, he introduced Delgado’s testimony from …

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Categories: jury selection, rule 404(b), Uncategorized

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Monday, December 31st, 2007

Permanent Waive

United States v. Quinones, No. 04-5554 (2d Cir. December 28, 2007) (Winter, Cabranes, Raggi, CJJ)

This case has lengthy discussions of two important issues. It turns out that the one that has received the less press is actually the more interesting of the two, so we’ll begin with that.

1. Sentencing Error Waived

Facts: In this capital case, the defendants initially faced three counts that exposed them to the death penalty. Two related to murder in aid of racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1959; for these, a life sentence was mandatory if death was not imposed. The defendants were acquitted of these counts.

They were convicted only of murder in relation to a continuing drug enterprise (“CCE”) under 21 U.S.C. § 848(e). At the time, that section provided for a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life if death was not imposed. Nevertheless, the defendants …

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Categories: jury selection, sentencing, Uncategorized, waiver

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