Criminal Jury Trials During COVID-19: Prosecution Leadership for a New Era

This webinar addresses the potential impact of pandemic safety measures on criminal jury trials and strategies for protecting the integrity of the proceedings. Presenters discuss strategies for triaging delayed cases; considerations of constitutional rights, including the 6th amendment right to a speedy and public trial, the 6th amendment right to confrontation,  and the 1st amendment freedom of the press; the use of juror questionnaires as a way to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 during jury selection; and methods for adapting prosecution strategies to virtual platforms.

Opioids and Drug Delivery Resulting in Death

The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the past two decades. In response, state and local prosecutors have taken a multifaceted approach to the crisis: diverting defendants with substance abuse issues from traditional prosecution, educating  communities about the dangers of opioid addiction; and increasingly, seeking to hold drug traffickers and dealers accountable for the deaths they cause. This webinar will spotlight one office’s efforts to tackle the opioid crisis. Tonya Lupinacci of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in Norristown, PA will discuss strategies that are broadly applicable to jurisdictions across the country, with a special emphasis on prosecuting Drug Delivery Resulting in Death and similar crimes. The session will focus on the evidence necessary for building these cases, theories of offender liability, and effective presentation of evidence at trial.

Overcoming the Consent Defense: Prosecuting Known Offenders

This presentation will address the challenges inherent in prosecuting known offenders and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, with an emphasis on overcoming the consent defense. The presentation will examine offender characteristics, motivations, and behaviors as well as the impact of the offender’s actions on the victim. The presenter will suggest strategies for overcoming common misconceptions at trial, including the importance of establishing a compelling trial theme, introducing evidence of the defendant’s predatory behavior, presenting corroborating evidence to support witness credibility, and recreating the reality of the crime at trial.

Justice in the Time of COVID-19: Strategic Responses

Social distancing and quarantine measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all aspects of our society, including the judicial system. While these public health measures are necessary to keep our communities safe and healthy, court closures and subsequent delays in case processing, as well as other social distancing measures, will require criminal justice professionals to adapt in order to continue holding offenders accountable while protecting their rights; meeting victim/witness needs; and maintaining public safety.

This panel discussion, featuring Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, CA; Ed McCann, First Assistant District Attorney of Montgomery County, PA; and Sherry Boston, District Attorney of DeKalb County, GA, as well as AEquitas Attorney Advisors, will provide practical perspectives to help guide prosecutors and other criminal justice system actors through the broad scope of issues raised by COVID-19; current responses from prosecutor’s offices around the country; and logistical and legal strategies for ensuring justice while social distancing measures remain in place. Topics will include (but aren’t limited to) implications on constitutional and statutory rights; challenges in processing, collecting, and testing crucial evidence; jail overcrowding and requests for bail; and the continuity of victim/witness services.

Reaching a Verdict: Guiding the Jury’s Response to the Evidence

After being thrust into an unfamiliar role in a complex system that is often equally unfamiliar, jurors in sexual assault cases face the daunting task of reaching a just verdict for a crime that is shrouded in misconceptions. In this foreign terrain, prosecutors serve as a trusted guide—pointing out familiar landmarks of personal experience and presenting witnesses and other evidence in a manner that makes them both understandable and relatable. By assisting jurors in forming personal connections to the evidence, the prosecutor can remove obstacles that might otherwise block the jury’s path to a just finding of guilt. 

This presentation will discuss ways to focus the jury’s attention on the evidence in a manner that accurately conveys the reality of sexual assault and assists jurors in rendering a fair and just verdict—beginning with jury selection and continuing through opening statement, presentation of evidence, and summation.  

Who Should View
Allied justice system professionals including but not limited to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, community-based service providers, medical and mental health practitioners, probation and parole officers, judges, etc. are encouraged to view this webinar recording.

CLE Credits
This one-hour webinar recording should qualify prosecutors for one (1.0) hour of continuing legal education credits. Prosecutors are encouraged to contact their state bar association in reference to application requirements and related fees.

The Prosecutors’ Resource on Sexual Abuse in Confinement

Sexual abuse in confinement has persistently presented tremendous challenges to investigators and prosecutors because of internal and external barriers to reporting, including the behaviors, actions, and decision-making power of first responders that may result in the failure to make an official report to law enforcement. Additional challenges include issues related to evidence collection and retention, identification of witnesses, and multi-level biases against inmates. This resource provides an overview of the Prison Rape Elimination Act and national standards related to a victim-centered, offender-focused investigation and prosecution of a sexual abuse in confinement. The issue discusses detailed strategy for prosecuting these cases, including investigation, pretrial, jury selection, trial testimony and sentencing.

Prosecutors-Resource-on-Sexual-Abuse-in-Confinement