Kurt F. Ellison


This Comment critically examines the development of Wisconsin’s juror bias case law and the challenges that this body of law has created for judges and practitioners across the State of Wisconsin. Further, this Comment analyzes whether attempts by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clear up the body of juror bias law have been successful or, as this Comment suggests, have left juror bias law grappling with the same set of issues. Wisconsin has long recognized the crucial role of the jury to its legal system and to ensuring the just administration of its laws. To preserve the integrity of the jury system, Wisconsin courts should grant broad deference to trial court judges in resolving issues of jury bias. When determining whether a juror is capable of impartiality, the trial court has the benefit of invaluable information gathered from face-to-face observations of the jurors that is not available to appellate courts or adequately noted in the trial record. This Comment suggests that appellate courts in Wisconsin, which lack access to trial court judges’ direct observations of juror bias, should consult the trial court judges, rather than relying solely on the trial record, regarding their findings on juror bias before deciding whether to uphold the trial judges’ decisions on appeal.

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