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Jury Reform: The Arizona Experience

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 79 Issue: 5 Dated: (March-April 1996) Pages: 280-288
B M Dann; G Logan III
Date Published
9 pages
A comprehensive examination of Arizona's jury system, led by the judiciary and involving a broad cross-section of the community, including former jurors, resulted in far-reaching and innovative recommendations and reforms.
Fifteen of the committee's recommendations resulted in Arizona Supreme Court rule changes that became effective December 1, 1995. One change requires that at the beginning of trial, judges read and give to jurors individual copies of preliminary jury instructions that inform the jurors in advance of the applicable substantive law that governs the case. Another major change guarantees jurors the right to submit questions of witnesses or of the judge during the trial. One of the most controversial reforms allows jurors to discuss the evidence among themselves during the trial, but only in the jury room when all are present. Further, trial judges may now give final jury instructions either before arguments by counsel or after, or both. Also, a new rule permits judges to dialog with the jury after receiving the first word of difficulty in reaching a verdict. Plans are to introduce a revised bill in the 1996 legislature that mirrors the Federal payment schedule for jurors. Employers would continue being exempt from paying jurors' salaries during jury service, and financial hardship reimbursement would be available for the self-employed and unemployed. Other rule changes pertain to random stratified jury selection to ensure improved racial and ethnic diversity of juries, as well as peremptories and nullification. The chances for successful jury reform in Arizona were greatly enhanced because the judiciary took the lead. 10 footnotes and a proposed bill of rights for Arizona jurors