Jury Center off to a Great Start

Article excerpt

I am pleased to report on the progress of the AJS National Jury Center, which officially opened last year, and I am proud to say that it is off to a grand start.

Drake University Law School Professor David McCord took a sabbatical to be the Jury Center's first director. David is an exceptional scholar who brought two decades of teaching experience to the position. He has applied his many talents to efficiently and effectively organise, analyze, and present the most comprehensive body of jury-related information available on the Internet at the Jury Center's web site, www.ajs.org/jc/index.asp. This could not have been accomplished without the outstanding efforts of Dawn Buzynski, who does a remarkable job keeping the AJS web site fresh and easy to navigate, and Karen Wallace, Drake law librarian, who helped identify the resources linked at the AJS web site. The web site was made publicly accessible on October 1, 2004. Since then, it has received more than 65,000 hits. The site has received the public service site of the month award from CivicMind.org, and was chosen for inclusion in SOSIG, a prestigious social science database headquartered in Great Britain.

The Jury Center will provide the programming at the 2005 AJS Mid-year meeting in New Orleans March 4-5. The longest segment of the program will focus on the new ABA Jury Trial Standards, part of the American Jury Initiative created by current ABA President Robert Grey. Three other jury-related panels will locus on "plain English" jury instructions, juries and sentencing, and juries and technology. More information about the mid-year meeting program is at www.ajs.org.

David served as consultant to Terri DeGezelle, author of Serving on a Jury, a book published in January by Capstone Press for use by elementary school teachers. AJS strongly supports public education aimed at developing citizen understanding and support of the judicial system, and judicial independence and accountability. I cannot think of a better place than the elementary schools to start building a base of knowledge about the judicial branch of government. This January an article authored by David, "Switching Juries in Mid-Stream: The Perplexities of Penalty-Phase-Only Retrials," was published in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law one of the few peer-reviewed, law-school-based law journals in the country. …