Friday, November 24, 2017
News Roundup

Q&A: What determines number of people on a jury?

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Number of people on a jury

What determines the number of people on a jury? I had always thought it was 12, but lately have been hearing of juries of six.

Florida state statutes determine the number of jurors. Title XLVII, Criminal Procedures and Corrections, Chapter 913.10 reads: "Number of jurors.—Twelve persons shall constitute a jury to try all capital cases, and six persons shall constitute a jury to try all other criminal cases."

The constitutionality of six jurors instead of 12 was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970, in the case of Williams vs. Florida.

The opinion reads, in part: "The question in this case then is whether the constitutional guarantee of a trial by 'jury' necessarily requires trial by exactly 12 persons, rather than some lesser number — in this case six. We hold that the 12-man panel is not a necessary ingredient of 'trial by jury,' and that respondent's refusal to impanel more than the six members provided for by Florida law did not violate petitioner's Sixth Amendment rights as applied to the States through the Fourteenth." The court noted that 12-member juries had been traditional in the United States, but called them a "historical accident."

Mandela's birth name

I've seen references to Nelson Mandela by names other than that. Why?

Nelson Mandela's birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela, according to CNN. Given to him by his father, it means pulling the branch of a tree. When he went to primary school, his teacher started calling him Nelson. It was common in the colonial days of the 1920s for teachers to assign African children English names.

In South Africa he is known by several names: Madiba, which is the name of the Thembu clan to which he belongs; Tata, which is a Xhosa name for father; Khulu, a Xhosa name that means grandfather; and Dalibhunga, which means creator or founder of the council.

What's a 'capsule' hotel?

I was reading a story about Edward Snowden and it mentioned he had been staying in a "capsule" hotel. What is that?

Capsule hotel rooms were invented by the Japanese in 1979 as a tiny room designed for travelers who miss a flight or train and do not wish to spend their waiting time on uncomfortable chairs. The early capsule hotels were similar to a tanning booth — about the size of a coffin, where a weary traveler could stretch out and get a little rest. Some have a thin mattress only; others have a TV, an alarm clock or other amenities.

The capsule, or pod, concept is growing, and so are the rooms. The one Snowden reportedly stayed in at the Moscow International Airport Sheremetyevo was about 65-75 square feet of lockable space, with a bed, bathroom and Internet access, and is rentable by the day or the hour. There are just a few pod hotels in the United States, in larger cities and at or near airports.

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