[UPDATE] Pensacola Sheriff, Judges at Odds Over Jury Greeting

By: AP
By: AP

[UPDATE] PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- March 25, 2011 -- 10:35am --

A Panhandle sheriff says he will follow the request of three federal judges and stop greeting their potential jurors.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan announced his decision
Thursday after the judges sent a letter asking that he stop meeting
and handing out his business cards to jurors when they gather on
Monday mornings at a downtown Pensacola parking lot.

The judges said they feared Morgan could create a pro-law
enforcement bias among jurors in some case.


PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- March 22, 2011 -- 9:06am --

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan says he will continue to greet prospective jurors as they board a trolley bound for the federal courthouse, even though three federal judges have asked him to stop.

Morgan told a local news outlet on Monday that he's prepared to take the matter to court.

In a letter dated March 3, judges Roger Vinson, Casey Rodgers
and Lacey Collier told the sheriff his interactions with jurors
raised concerns about the court's ability to seat impartial juries.
Morgan responded on March 17 that he considers greeting jurors part
of his First Amendment rights.

Morgan says he's just "thanking prospective jurors for their
public service."

The issue first came to light last year when defense attorney
raised complaints.

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  • by expost facto on Mar 25, 2011 at 01:54 PM
    If I was a defendent and the sheriff did this, I'd ask for a change of venue. I wonder if the sheriff would have a problem if the defense attorneys made it a practice of greeting the jurors and handing out thier business cards. Maybe hand out coffee and donuts. Or maybe give each juror a coupon to get 20% off the next time they need a lawyer.
  • by Lee Location: Tally on Mar 25, 2011 at 08:02 AM
    Hey Lip Cheese - every selected juror is in fact an enforcer of the laws of the state, county or city, depending on what level they're selected. Check your facts: juror is bound by state law to weigh the evidence submitted under sworn testimony from lay persons and "qualified" experts and that physical evidence allowed by the court (law). They then "deliberate" this evidence and testemony and enforce Florida Statutes by finding the defendant quilty as charged, of a lesser charge or find the defendant not-guility. I would say that is a form of Law Enforcement wouldn't you? BTW, ever served on a jury before? I have - capital offense that resulted in recommending the death penalty.
  • by john Location: wills on Mar 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM
    It's hard enough getting jurors to even come..At least someone is thankful for there service..The defendant wont care..
  • by Jim Location: Tallahassee on Mar 22, 2011 at 08:42 AM
    I agree. If your first contact as a prospective juror is with the Sheriff, it could, albeit minimally, have some sort of pro-prosecution effect.......
  • by Lip Cheese on Mar 22, 2011 at 07:00 AM
    The Sheriff is engaging in "Jury Poisoning". Creating a subconscious bond with the jury, attempting to create the illusion in the jurors minds, that the jurors are now "law enforcement" and part of the same team.
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