sequester | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

To sequester is to isolate members of a jury so they are not exposed to outside information about a case.

In the United States, the concept of a fair and impartial trial is enshrined in the Constitution. One way to ensure a fair trial is to sequester the jury or isolate its members from outside information about a case. This practice has been used for decades in high-profile cases that garner significant media attention, as well as in cases where there is a concern that jurors may be exposed to information that could sway their judgment.

Sequestration typically involves isolating jurors from their daily lives, including their families, friends, and media. Jurors are housed in a hotel or other secure location and are not allowed to leave the premises without permission. During the trial, they are escorted to and from the courthouse by court officials and are not allowed to have any contact with anyone outside the sequestered environment.

The goal of sequestration is to prevent jurors from being influenced by outside factors that could potentially compromise their impartiality. For example, jurors may inadvertently be exposed to news reports, social media posts, or discussions among friends or family members that could affect their perceptions of the case.

Sequestering jurors is not a new practice. In fact, sequestration was used in the trial of the famous gangster Al Capone in the 1930s. However, sequestration has become more common in recent years, particularly in high-profile cases such as those involving celebrities or high-ranking public officials.

Despite its importance in ensuring a fair trial, sequestration is not without its critics. Some argue that sequestering jurors can be a costly and time-consuming process, particularly in cases that last for weeks or months. Others argue that sequestration can be psychologically taxing on jurors, who may feel isolated and disconnected from their daily lives.

In addition, some legal experts have questioned the effectiveness of sequestration in the digital age. With the rise of social media and the internet, it is more difficult than ever to completely isolate jurors from outside information. Even if jurors are not actively seeking out information about the case, they may inadvertently be exposed to it through their social media feeds or other online sources.

Despite these concerns, sequestration remains an important tool for ensuring a fair trial. In some cases, sequestration may be the only way to protect the integrity of the trial and ensure that jurors are not influenced by outside factors. As the legal system continues to evolve, it is likely that sequestration will continue to play an important role in safeguarding the right to a fair trial.

Learn More

On This Site

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/28/2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.