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In the recent fraud trial of Canadian-born media mogul Conrad Black, potential jurors answered a 45-page questionnaire that even asked them their views “about people from Canada.” The 18-page questionnaire for producer Phil Spector’s ongoing murder trial asked jurors to rate their feelings about statements such as: “Celebrities and high profile people tend to have bad tempers and act aggressively.” And jurors in I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.’s perjury trial were asked nine pages of questions, including whether they thought “everyone’s memory is like a tape recorder.” Several lawyers and trial consultants said written questionnaires are becoming an increasingly common way to spot biased jurors. The questionnaires can be particularly helpful in highly publicized cases and those involving sensitive information jurors don’t want to discuss in front of others, they said. “The courts are recognizing the need for them and the judges are recognizing the need for them,” said Andrew Sheldon, senior partner at Sheldon Sinrich Trial Consultants in Atlanta. A survey by the National Center for State Courts released in April found that respondents in 10% of federal courts and 5% of state courts used supplemental juror questionnaires, which are case-specific and usually more detailed than the standard questionnaires on which some courts rely. While supplemental questionnaires are used as the only form of voir dire in only 1% of trials, they are used in addition to oral voir dire in 38% of trials, the survey said. Judges’ attention Jeffrey Frederick, director of jury research services for the National Legal Research Group in Charlottesville, Va., said a growing number of studies have endorsed the use of these questionnaires, helping to boost their popularity. “We’re seeing more trials with [supplemental] juror questionnaires, which raises the consciousness of the legal community,” he said. “Judges have heard more and more about them and they are becoming more freely used.” For example, the American Jury Project, which produced a set of principles for jury trials that were approved in 2005, recommended using the questionnaires. An article published in the 2003 issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review devoted to jury issues also endorsed the use of questionnaires, citing their efficiency and private nature. In addition to inquiring about a juror’s family, occupation and education level, questionnaires in high-profile cases typically ask a host of questions about media consumption habits. “More and more trials are getting more publicity,” said Anne Reed, a jury consultant and shareholder in the litigation department of Milwaukee’s Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren who posts juror questionnaires on her “Deliberations” blog. “It’s a good way for a judge to be certain he or she has inquired about any effects of pretrial publicity, so I think that’s one thing that’s leading to judges using them more often.” David Wenner of Snyder & Wenner in Phoenix, who also does jury consulting, said the questionnaires are not used enough. “If judges allowed juror questionnaires, I think you’d save time in the end and we’d have fairer jurors on both sides,” he said. More technology, more biases Greg Cusimano of Cusimano, Keener, Roberts & Raley in Gadsden, Ala., said that because of influences such as the Internet, movies and the media, jurors now arrive to court with many biases. “It’s more difficult in a civil case today to get a fair and impartial jury than ever in my 40 years of practice,” said Cusimano, who is also a partner in Washington-based Winning Works, a trial strategy firm. “And today we’re finding that many people are more reluctant to share publicly information and more likely to answer your question from a questionnaire.” The length of jury questionnaires varies widely and often depends on the judge. Some are five pages long, while the questionnaire in the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial had more than 70 pages and 300 questions. Many provide insight into issues lawyers think may influence jurors’ opinions. In Black’s case, jurors were asked about their views regarding people with titles such as “lord.” Black, who was found guilty in Chicago in July of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to become a British lord. In basketball star Kobe Bryant’s 2004 sexual assault case � later dismissed � jurors had to answer 82 questions, some asking them how they viewed interracial relationships and African-Americans. The federal terrorism trial of Jose Padilla produced 33 pages of questions, including ones asking jurors what they thought of words such as “jihad” and whether they thought “a person can criticize the United States and still be patriotic.” Some questions hint at what’s coming up in the trial, such as this one from Libby’s case: “Is there anyone who feels that a person could not honestly say something about a matter he or she truly believed to be the true [sic] when that person several months earlier actually said something totally different about that same matter?” In March, the jury rejected Libby’s claims of memory lapses and convicted him in the federal perjury trial.

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