Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Chin

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 17, 2017




         On October 18, 2017, the Trustees of Boston University filed a motion to intervene in this case seeking to obtain the names and home addresses of citizen jurors who were called to service in the trial of United States v. Glenn Chin. The court denied the motion to unseal juror names and home addresses absent a protective order designed to guard against unnecessary dissemination of the jurors' personal information, including over the Internet, and noted that in any event, it would not disclose jurors' home addresses. See Dkt #1281 (Oct. 27, 2017). In its preliminary Order, the court referenced Judge Young's similar ruling in United States v. Wright, No. 15-cr-10153 (Dkt #357). Judge Young, however, in a subsequent electronic order, reconsidered his position regarding a protective order and ordered the immediate release of jurors' names and home cities/towns (but not home addresses), although adding that “absent a juror's express agreement, no additional personal identifiers about that juror shall be published.” See Wright, Dkt #394.

         Given Judge Young's change in position, the court on further reflection agrees with his implicit finding that the requirement of a protective order is impractical, and perhaps unconstitutional, and amends its previous order, Dkt #1281, as follows: “Upon sentencing, the court will release a list of the Chin jurors' names and home towns.” However, the court will not release jurors' home addresses. To explain why the court believes this result to be the correct balance of the constitutional issues at stake, and why nondisclosure of jurors' home addresses is required to safeguard the important role that juries play in our legal system and constitutional order, the court offers the following historical perspective.


         It is not hyperbolic to describe the jury as “the single most important institution in the history of Anglo-American law.” Laurence Tribe, Constitutional Law 618 (3d ed. 2000) (quoting Morris Arnold, The Civil Jury in Historical Perspective, in The American Civil Jury 9-10 (1987)). Although “[f]ew subjects have exercised the ingenuity and baffled the research of the historian more than the origin of the jury, ” William Forsyth, History of Trial by Jury 2 (1852), one can detect echoes of the jury right in Magna Carta, which formally proclaimed that: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.” Magna Carta, cl. 39. Sir William Blackstone concluded that the jury right recognized in Magna Carta was “more than once insisted on as the principal bulwark of our liberties.” 3 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England *351 (Claitor's ed., Baton Rouge, LA 1976) (Blackstone, Commentaries).

         In fact, the origins of community judgment and punishment for alleged crimes, as an alternative to the fiat of the Crown, predate Magna Carta.[1] As Blackstone observed, “[s]ome authors have endeavored to trace the origin[] of juries up as high as the Britons themselves, the first inhabitants of our island; but certain it is that they were in use among the earliest Saxon colonies . . . .” 3 Blackstone, Commentaries *349. Variations of the jury trial and the concept of collective judgment and punishment make their appearance in antiquity: the Roman system of lex acilia[2] provided for the empaneling of a group of nobles to gauge the guilt or innocence of provincial officeholders accused of misconduct; Socrates chose hemlock over challenging or defying a verdict that had been delivered by a 500-person Athenian jury, even when presented with an eleventh-hour opportunity for escape.

         Whatever its precise origins, the jury trial was a staple of the common law, designed to foster local dispute settlement and hold individuals accountable for crimes in a way that fostered effective regional governance and conserved the Crown's judicial resources, while eventually coming to offer protections to the rights of the accused. Early commentaries on English law reflect the priority placed on having juries drawn from the vicinage - the area or county in which the alleged crime had been committed. Jurors were “to be of the Neighbourhood of the Fact to be inquired, or at least of the County or Bailywick.” Sir Matthew Hale, History of the Common Law of England 160 (Charles M. Gray ed., 1971). Chief Justice Coke's treatise on English law emphasized this vicinage requirement. See 3 Edward Coke, First Institute of the Laws of England 368-369 (2d Am. ed. 1836) (“[E]very trial shall be out of that town, parish, or hamlet, or place known out of the town, &c., within the record, within which the matter of fact issuable is alleged, which is most certain and nearest thereunto, the inhabitants whereof may have the better . . . knowledge of the fact.”). As Coke's formulation indicates, early English juries were expected to have direct familiarity with the facts and individuals involved in the case and thus “functioned more as witnesses than as triers of fact.” Douglas Smith, The Historical and Constitutional Contexts of Jury Reform, 25 Hosftra L. Rev. 377, 392 (1996) (Smith, Jury Reform).

         In the early period of the European settlement of North America and in the decades that immediately preceded the American Revolution, juries featured prominently in disputes, both criminal and civil, in courts throughout the colonies. An early statute of the Plymouth Colony in 1623 “declared that ‘all criminal facts . . . should [be tried] by the verdict of twelve Honest men to be Impanelled by Authority in forme of a jury upon their oaths.'” Albert Alschuler & Andrew G. Deiss, A Brief History of the Criminal Jury in the United States, 61 U. Chicago L. Rev. 867, 903 n.187 (1994). Similarly, “James I's Charter to the Virginia Company in 1606 promised the colonists who would settle Jamestown a year later that they would enjoy all the rights of Englishmen, including the right to a jury trial.” Id. at 870 n.15. These early inducements to would-be settlers quickly translated into codified rights guaranteed by the colonial constitutions, charters, and common laws. The Colony of West New Jersey adopted trial by jury in 1677, with Pennsylvania following five years later. See Smith, Jury Reform at 422 n.174. “Rhode Island adopted trial by jury in 1647; South Carolina adopted it in 1712: and Delaware adopted the language of the Magna Carta in 1727.” Id. (citing 1 J. Kendall, In Defense of Trial by Jury 36 (1993)).

         Colonial American juries wielded far more power than either their English antecedents or their modern counterparts, chiefly because they often took it upon themselves to decide both questions of law and fact.[3] “Whereas modern juries must follow the law as stated to them by the court, juries in prerevolutionary Massachusetts could ignore judges' instructions on the law and decide the law by themselves in both civil and criminal cases.” William E. Nelson, Americanization of the Common Law: The Impact of Legal Change on Massachusetts Society, 1760-1830, 3 (Harvard Univ. Press, 1975). This power was ceded to juries “apparently so that they could serve when needed as a restraint on judicial power” in the colonies, id. at 28, a practice and custom endorsed by leading jurists of the founding generation. See, e.g., 1 Legal Papers of John Adams 230 (Wroth & Zobel eds., Belknap 1965) (concluding that it was “an Absurdity to suppose that the Law would oblige [the jury] to find a Verdict according to the Direction of the Court, against their own Opinion, Judgment and Conscience.”); Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia 140 (J.W. Randolph ed., 1853) (“[I]f the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both fact and law.”).[4] While the grant of law-finding power to the jury has long since been extinguished by the Supreme Court, see Sparf v. United States, 156 U.S. 51 (1895)[5], the early practice reinforces the point that “[t]he authors known to the founders had a high respect for the wide powers of the jury over law, fact and punishment . . . . In a sense, the jury was, and remains, the direct voice of the sovereign, in a collaborative effort with the judge.” United States v. Khan, 325 F.Supp.2d 218, 229-230 (E.D.N.Y. 2004) (Weinstein, J.).

         Concerns over the preservation of the jury right in the face of British encroachment provided kindling for the Revolution. Among the Resolutions adopted by the 1765 Stamp Act Congress was “[t]hat trial by jury is the inherent and invaluable right of every British subject in these colonies.” Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress, 1765 ¶ VII. As disputes between the colonials and the Crown simmered, Parliament “responded to their difficulties with American juries partly by extending the jurisdiction of admiralty courts, a jurisdiction that before 1767 had been limited to maritime cases, ” and “permitted some English officials charged with crimes to be tried in England rather than America.” Alschuler & Deiss, A Brief History of the Criminal Jury at 875. The First Continental Congress listed the deprivation of “the benefits of trial by Jury” when enumerating grievances against King George III in its 1774 Declaration of Rights. The 1776 Declaration of Independence iterated that grievance, condemning the King “[f]or depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury.” The Declaration of Independence para. 20 (U.S. 1776).

         At the time of Independence, “[t]he constitutions adopted by the original States guaranteed jury trial, ” and “the constitution of every State entering the Union thereafter in one form or another protected the right to jury trial in criminal cases.” Duncan v. Lousiana, 391 U.S. 145, 153 (1968). To take a local example, Article XII of the Massachusetts Constitution, drafted by John Adams, provided that “no subject shall be arrested, imprisoned, despoiled, or deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, exiled, or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.” Article XII further prohibited the legislature from making “any law” that would “subject any person to a capital or infamous punishment . . . without trial by jury, ” while Article XIII protected the vicinage rights of both the defendant and the community: “In criminal prosecutions, the verification of facts in the vicinity where they happen, is one of the greatest securities of the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.” Mass. Const. art. XII-XIII (1780).

         Debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution reflect the central position occupied by the jury in the structure of American government. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that “[t]he friends and adversaries of the plan of the convention, if they agree in nothing else, concur at least in the value they set upon the trial by jury; or if there is any difference between them it consists in this: the former regard it as a valuable safeguard to liberty; the latter represent it as the very palladium of free government.” The Federalist No. 83. Among the criticisms of the new Constitution advanced by the anti-federalists, a chief concern was their belief that it provided insufficient protections for the jury right. See Herbert J. Storing, What the Anti-Federalists Were For 19 (1981) (“The question was not fundamentally whether the lack of adequate provision for jury trial would weaken a traditional bulwark of individual rights (although that was also involved) but whether it would fatally weaken the role of the people in the administration of government.”).

         The most prominent of the Anti-Federalists, the pseudonymous Federal Farmer, noted that through juries “frequently drawn from the body of the people . . . and by holding a jury's right to return a general verdict in all cases sacred, we secure to the people at large, their just and rightful control in the judicial department.” Letters from the Federal Farmer (XV), in 2 The Complete Anti-Federalist 320 (Jan. 18, 1788) (H. Storing ed., 1981). While the anti-federalists did not prevail in their efforts to block ratification of the Constitution, their concerns animated the creation of the Bill of Rights. See Akhil Reed Amar, The Bill of Rights as a Constitution, 100 Yale L.J. 1131, 1183 (1991) (noting that “the entire debate at the Philadelphia convention over whether to add a Bill of Rights was triggered when George Mason picked up a casual comment from another delegate that ‘no provision was yet made [in the constitution] for juries in civil cases'” and observing that “[g]uaranteed in no ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.