I don't think much of those who blog under a psuedonym and hide their identity. If you think it, own it, I say. But folks have their reasons for anonymity. Sometimes it is cowardice or fear of the consequences; sometimes it is a juvenile love of mystery. In Connecticut, a blog called A Public Defender intermittently yields opinion under the pseudonym "Gideon." I generally agree with what is written there, but not always, so I give Gideon a pass on his -- at least I think it's a he -- feet of clay.
But Gideon now blasts me as a cumbersome bloviater for calling for the abolition of individual sequestered voir dire. I suspect what has driven him over the edge is a piece I wrote published in The Hartford Courant this past weekend. The target audience for that essay was members of the Connecticut General Assembly.
It appears from the context of his writing that Gideon is a state employee. In other words, his practice is confined to the state courts. Thus, all he knows by experience is what he has done. And all he has done is trod the same well worn path of individual sequestered voir dire. He has no experience with group voir dire. He can be forgiven for thinking his mother is the prettiest, smartest and bestest woman in the whole wide world, but really, Gideon: Do you really think the quality of justice in the Connecticut state courts surpasses every other jurisdiction in the United States? What empirical evidence supports that?
It is true that some jurisdictions permit individual sequestered voir dire for good cause shown in capital cases. But no other jurisdiction requires the practice as a matter of right in all civil and criminal cases. Only Connecticut does that. Connecticut could, and should, abolish the practice of individual sequestered voir dire as a matter of right. Retaining the practice upon a showing of good cause is not inconsistent with that.
I genuinely admire and even envy public defenders. They get to do the sort of work I love to do without having to bow and scrape for a fee. But when I read a piece like Gideon's I am glad I escaped the monotony of the oxen yoked to a water wheel. When all you know is the same path, the same sights, the same sounds day in and day out, it is small wonder parochialism looks like reason.
You're wrong, Gideon, And what's worse, you toss pebbles behind the veil of a pseudonym. If I didn't like the general tone of your blog, I'd suggest a name change to Public Pretender. The Earth is not flat.
I hope the Connecticut General Assembly will ask the Progam Review and Investigation Committee to study the issue of voir dire reform. I know the Connecticut Bar Association is about to begin a study. I'll be sure to pass Gideon's piece along to both bodies. It is a good piece of parochial pleading. But it sheds little light on anything other than the prejudices of an anonymous and hide-bound dedication to custom for custom's sake. It is quaint, really, in an almost medieval sort of manner.