Jessica Hew Featured in the American Bar Association's Litigation News

Firm News

By Kelso L. Anderson, Litigation News Associate Editor

Attorneys and self-represented parties may select their own jurors for trial and even reject jurors deemed to be impartial by a trial judge, according to an interim standing order issued by a state trial court. Massachusetts Superior Court Standing Order 1-15. Section leaders are mixed as to whether it will enhance the empanelment of impartial jurors but agree that it is likely to prolong trials.

Interim Procedure

By its terms, Massachusetts Superior Court Standing Order 1-15: Participation in Juror Voir Dire by Attorneys and Self-Represented Parties, is an interim procedure adopted by Massachusetts trial courts. The order implements Chapter 254, Section 2 of the Acts of 2014, entitled "An Act Relative to Certain Judicial Procedures in the Superior Court," which became effective along with the order on February 2, 2015, and will stay in effect until it is "superseded or modified."

Among other provisions, the order permits "oral examination of the prospective jurors" by a party's attorney or any self-represented litigant. However, the order also prescribes that trial judges retain discretion to employ "procedures for the examination of prospective jurors by attorneys and self-represented parties that may differ from those set forth herein." Further, the order sets forth the procedure by which attorneys or self-represented parties may examine prospective jurors in civil and criminal cases.

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