An Attorney Explains Vicinage in Jury Selection

The vicinage right is a geographic rather than a demographic requirement, which distinguishes it from the cross-section requirement. It is the right of a criminal defendant to be tried by a jury drawn from the population of the area in which the crime occurred. The vicinage right, although assertable by a criminal defendant, also protects the right of a community to pass judgment on the offending party.  In one recent appellate decision the court criticized a previous decision with respect to the assumption that Sixth Amendment vicinage applied to states.  Indeed, the right to a jury of the vicinage is also distinct from venue: vicinage refers to the geographical area from which the jury is summoned whereas venue is the place of  the criminal trial.  Vicinage, which has its basis in common law and the desire to have a jury be composed of neighbors who knew the parties, was included in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. If the Legislature authorizes a division of the county into judicial districts, the vicinage is the population in the judicial district served by the court and not the population of the entire county in which the judicial district is located. For example one recent court surmised the issue involving judicial districts within Los Angeles County and relevant community for purposes of representative cross-section requirement is community of qualified jurors in judicial district in which case is to be tried.  But if the Legislature does not authorize a division of the county into judicial districts, a jury drawn from the entire county satisfies the vicinage right.  In the latter case, the designation of a location other than the county seat for court sessions does not create a separate judicial district for purposes of vicinage.  Intracounty transfer of cases is permitted, because the boundaries of vicinage are coextensive with the boundaries of the county.

One Response to An Attorney Explains Vicinage in Jury Selection

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