Educating the Confused – Tennessee Jury Questionnaire

Sharon Rondeau from the Post and Email (P&E) and Walter Fitzpatrick have commented on the fact that jurors in Monroe County fill out “Juror Questionnaires” which include such details as, name, address, occupation, name of spouse, occupation of spouse etc.

Based on the information which Monroe County apparently collects on each potential juror, it seems that it could have been easily determined whether or not the “Angela Davis” serving as foreman for one day in 2010 and who signed out an indictment against Fitzpatrick was the same as she who served in 2009.  The judge stated that there was no proof, but there could have been.

Source: P&E, Judge Amy Reedy Caught in the act of hand-picking jurors?, Sharon Rondeau, Dec 21, 2011

If so, the defendant’s attorney should have provided such proof. Failing that, the Judge was correct. Furthermore, Angela Davis can serve as a foreman in 2010 and serve in 2009, as the foreperson of the Grand Jury is not summoned but rather appointed by the Judge. But that was irrelevant to the issue.

Walt  accused Martha Cook of “outlawry”:

Item: Martha Cook in her outlawry profiles the jury pools. Cook directs potential jurors to complete a poll survey calling for disclosure of personal information such as marital status, education level, profession, employment status, employer, spouses’ name and address, spouses’ employment status and employer, and number of children.

Item: Martha Cook’s collection of personal information from members of the jury pool beyond what is statutorily mandated is outlawed. Martha Cook’s construction and maintenance of a database containing off-limits personal information collected from jury pool members is outlawed.

So why would Martha Cook provide the prospective jurors with a juror questionnaire? Well, she is following the rules:

T.R.Crim.P. Rule 24 provides  that:

(g) List of Prospective Jurors. Upon request the parties shall be furnished with a list of members of the jury panel, containing the following information with respect to each: name, address, occupation, name of spouse, occupation of spouse. The list shall also state whether each prospective juror has previously served on a criminal court jury; however, that information need not be provided prior to the day of trial.

Shameful, how the Monroe Clerk is properly following procedures… In fact, the document contains additional questions which can be essential to the voire dire procedure

If you have a receptive judge, the jury questionnaire filled out for this information can easily be expanded to include more useful information.

Source: Voire Dire, Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Nov. 5, 2005

Voire Dire refers to the process of screening prospective jurors and the right of the defendant is outlined in TCA § 22-3-101:

22-3-101.  Absolute right of parties to examine.

Parties in civil and criminal cases or their attorneys shall have an absolute right to examine prospective jurors in such cases, notwithstanding any rule of procedure or practice of court to the contrary.

What a little research can do…

Seems that Marty Cook has been following the rules. What was observed in court was the selection of Grand Juror members by the judge, according to the rules, and searching the juror’s questionnaire and annotate it with Panel #1 or Panel #2, since there were two Grand Jury’s selected during this hearing.

Why is it so hard to properly read the Tennessee Code and the Rules of the Court?

Rule 6: Grand Jury

(1) Formation at a Regular Term. On the first day of each term of court at which a grand jury is required to be impaneled, the judge of the court authorized by law to charge the grand jury and to receive its report shall direct the names of all the qualified jurors in attendance for the criminal courts of the county to be written on separate slips of paper and placed in a box or other suitable receptacle and <b>drawn out by the judge in open court</b>. The foreperson and the twelve qualified jurors whose names are first drawn constitute the grand jury for the term and shall attend the court until dismissed by the judge or until the next term.

It’s not that hard to do the research, and I am amazed that a ‘reporter’ like Sharon did not contact the Clerk’s office or read the relevant statutes which outline the procedure? In fact, there must be another Grand Jury selection happening any day now for the 2014 year, so I am sure that Sharon will be attending or have someone attend in her place who can report objectively on what happens during this event?

Some links may help:

Nashville FAQ
Opinion of the Attorney General 10-125 – Outlines the jury selection process