In civil cases, forum selection has become an integral part of litigation strategy. Plaintiffs have the initial choice of where to file a complaint, and thus where to begin a lawsuit. Defendants have the power to remove cases, under circumstances prescribed by statute, from state court to federal court. Many factors enter into the decision of where to file a complaint or whether to remove a case including convenience, applicable law, and suspected biases. But what about the jury? Should a plaintiff consider characteristics of the jury when deciding where to file a complaint or a defendant in a civil case when deciding whether to remove?
In criminal cases, where the defendant is tried is determined largely by what type of crime the defendant has committed—federal or state—and where the crime has taken place. Is the jury afforded to a criminal defendant significantly different based on whether the defendant committed a crime against New York state or the United States, or whether the crime took place downstate or upstate? Should a criminal prosecutor consider characteristics of the jury before deciding to bring a case against a defendant who has committed a certain type of crime?
This paper will attempt to answer these key questions in civil and criminal cases. Part I will examine the role of the jury and the court structure in New York. Part II will examine New York-specific differences between state and federal juries by examining methods of jury pool assembly, the demographics of members comprising the jury pool in all New York counties, and other factors that may influence the juror experience or the representativeness of the jury. Part III will provide advice for litigators and prosecutors, as well as determine any consequences of state and federal differences.
Overall, my research suggests that there are key differences between both the various procedures and demographics of the jury pool that can influence a trial proceeding in state and federal courts in New York.
Atlas, Ariel, "Don’t Forget About the Jury: Advice for Civil Litigators and Criminal Prosecutors on Differences in State and Federal Courts in New York" (2015). Cornell Law Library Prize for Exemplary Student Research Papers. Paper 10.