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Author Archives: Dennis M. Sweeney

Dennis M. Sweeney: How many strikes are enough?

Last September, three men were tried together in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the murder of former Baltimore City Councilman Kenneth Harris. Given that the charges carried the possible sentence of life imprisonment and there were multiple defendants, Judge David ...

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Jury sequestration: No meat, drink, fire or candle

In the two decades I conducted jury selections for criminal and civil cases, potential jurors would often ask to approach the bench when questioning was otherwise concluded and tell me, unprompted, that they could not serve if the jury was ...

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The question that ‘poisons’ the venire

This column has previously discussed the so-called CSI effect and whether jurors should be questioned about it and has also reflected on the difficulties trial judges face in deciding how far to go in asking voir dire questions to fairly ...

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The Catchpole case: Women on juries in colonial times

In the colonial era, before Maryland became a state, there were some rare instances in which women were called to serve on juries. These were cases where the court believed the special expertise of women could aid the judicial process. ...

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June 1 marks anniversary of having women on Maryland juries

In February 1931, when Sara Whitehurst stepped from a specially chartered train in Annapolis with 200 other women from Baltimore, she was optimistic that a long-sought priority of Maryland women’s social, professional and business groups would soon be accomplished. Whitehurst ...

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Judge on the Jury: Mandatory questions -One for the list

For nearly a decade, the Court of Appeals has been hesitant to add to the list of questions a judge must ask during voir dire of potential jurors. That ended last month with its decision in Moore v. State, which ...

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Judge on the Jury: Hearkening, then and now

In the winter of 1892, the schooner Martha E. Moore was discovered by the authorities to have been illegally dredging for oysters within the “prohibited waters” of the Chesapeake Bay. The Anne Arundel County Grand Jury indicted the schooner master, ...

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