Jury Selection Begins in Newspaper Shooting Case

Jury Selection Begins in Capital Gazette Newspaper Case Against Jarrod Ramos

Jury selection began on this week for part two of a trial for a man charged with killing five employees at a Maryland newspaper in 2018. As Magna’s Ross Suter told the Associated Press, attorneys have their work cut out for them choosing a jury in a high-profile case in a small community during a pandemic.

A Maryland judge carefully focused on asking potential jurors whether they believed they could be fair and impartial in weighing the plea of guilty but not criminally responsible by a man who killed five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper nearly three years ago.

Judge Michael Wachs emphasized that Jarrod Ramos already pleaded guilty to all 23 counts against him in 2019, but he has pleaded not criminally responsible due to his mental health.

Jurors in the second phase of his trial will be asked to determine whether Ramos lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct in a case that will be based largely on testimony from mental health experts.

After delays in a case that will be three years old next week, an initial pool of 300 potential jurors was chosen for consideration to fill 12 seats on the jury and several alternates. About 50 of them were already dismissed, based on their responses to a questionnaire.

The court ended up with about 20 qualified jurors after the first round of questioning at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse in Annapolis, just a few miles from where the attack happened.

Many of the potential jurors who were dismissed said they would have a difficult time being impartial. Some cited the trouble they would have viewing a video recording of the attack that is expected to be shown.

Ross Suter, senior vice president of litigation solutions for Magna Legal Services, described it as a unique case during a pandemic.

“They’re really going to be looking for people that are impartial, that are reasonable — that are going to be able to listen and make up their minds,” Suter said.

Under Maryland’s insanity defense law, a defendant has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he is not criminally responsible for his actions. State law says a defendant is not criminally responsible for criminal conduct if, because of a mental disorder or developmental disabilities, he lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.

“My understanding is it’s a difficult defense to make and to have success with,” Suter said.

Click below to read the full article on APNews.com

Read Full Article

‘COVID Glow’ May Bring Benefits in Malpractice Litigation

‘COVID Glow’ May Bring Benefits in Malpractice Litigation

In the July issue of Healthcare Risk Management, Dr. Rachel York Colangelo shows how Magna’s pandemic-era jury research points to a ‘COVID glow’ that could last for years:

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations could benefit from a COVID-19 “glow” or “halo effect” in which medical malpractice juries look more favorably on defendants because of the public’s positive perception of healthcare workers. The portrayal of doctors and nurses as heroes might leave a lasting impression that affects how jurors perceive defense arguments.

COVID-19-era jury perception surveys conducted by Magna Legal Services, a national jury consulting firm, revealed healthcare is one of the industries likely to benefit from a “halo effect” in litigation that goes to trial. Survey data indicates that 81% of respondents reported a greater sense of compassion for healthcare workers since before COVID-19, says Rachel York Colangelo, PhD, Magna’s national managing director of jury consulting.

Twenty-three percent of potential jurors surveyed knew a COVID-19 healthcare worker. Sixty percent of respondents said they would be “less critical of healthcare workers post-COVID.” Eighty percent said they were “very concerned” about COVID-19 healthcare workers, and 81% said they would have a greater sense of compassion for healthcare workers after the pandemic.

Click for more information on this survey

“What we’re seeing is not surprising, given the publicity that frontline healthcare workers dealing with COVID have received,” Colangelo says. “Because of the goodwill they have garnered as a result of their tireless work, we are seeing what we call a ‘halo effect’ for not only frontline healthcare workers but the healthcare industry in general.”

There is a greater awareness of the work done by healthcare professionals, the conditions in which they work, the long hours, lack of resources, overcrowding, and the sacrifice of personal time.

“With that appreciation and understanding also comes a less critical view in the minds of the public who are potential jurors,” she says.

The effect also benefits pharmaceutical companies because of the public’s appreciation for the quick development of COVID-19 vaccines, she notes.

Click below to read the full article on reliasmedia.com.

Read Full Article

Capital Gazette Shooter: Defense Attorney Claims Delusions & Mental Disorders

In choosing a jury for the Jarrod Ramos newspaper shooting trial, prosecutors will have to battle the notion that only a crazy person would do what he did. Magna’s Mark Calzaretta points out in Baltimore Sun that there’s a difference between crazy and criminally insane.

Capital Gazette case jury selection to be defined by biases on mental health, media and insanity defense, experts say

When jury selection in the Capital Gazette shooting case begins, attorneys and the judge will try to tease out biases about mental health, the insanity defense and even the media, experts say.

In this case more than any other, half a dozen legal experts said, prosecutors and defense attorneys will seek to find open-minded jurors to ensure a fair trial for the shooter.

Ramos’ defense attorneys likely will look for people who know “mental illness is a reality” and that it could potentially explain “horrific behavior,” said attorney Andrew Jezic. Perhaps that person had a family member or friend who’s afflicted by a condition.

“You just need people that are sympathetic to the inherent failings of human nature,” Jezic said.

Lawyers for both sides will try to eliminate anyone who works in the mental health field, experts said, so that jurors can concentrate on the evidence presented. There are already three sets of psychiatrists and psychologists set to testify in the case.

On the other side, experts said, prosecutors will hope for someone who’s rigid in their thinking, skeptical of the insanity defense. They’ll want to exclude anyone who they perceive as overly sympathetic to mental health issues or who believes the criminal justice system is biased.

Prosecutors also will have to battle the reflex that someone who commits mass murder has to be crazy. It’s not uncommon for that word to be used colloquially following yet another shooting in America.

“There’s some level of crazy with all of this — it has to be; it’s just nuts to do it,” said Mark Calzaretta of Magna Legal Services, “But that doesn’t mean that they’re criminally insane.”

In this already unique case, another unusual element could factor into jury selection: A person’s perception of the press.

Click below to read the full article on baltimoresun.com

Read Full Article