I originally wrote about this in September, after it came to my attention that a continuance had been sought in an Arkansas case on the grounds that deer season was about to start and there would be nobody left in town to sit on a jury for the case (I'm paraphrasing). I later heard from the attorney in the case, John Wesley Hall, Jr., whose name I should have recognized as a well-known criminal attorney who has appeared in numerous appellate cases, including before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He told me that the continuance had been granted, and that the approach of deer season was mentioned but was only one of a number of reasons given for granting the motion. Mr. Hall sent me a request for judicial notice that was filed in support of the motion in which he asked the court to take notice of, among other things:
- the relevant dates for the 2006 deer season in Arkansas,
- statistics supporting an estimate for total days spent hunting in Arkansas that ranges between six and seven million days per year, and
- facts supporting a careful and impressive calculation that approximately 20 percent of potential jurors in Lonoke County are deer hunters.
Nine cases were cited in support, in two of which the courts took judicial notice of deer season in other states. The others supported the proposition that "people often schedule their vacation time with hunting season in mind." One of these seven cites was to a dissenting opinion, but still it really is an impressive piece of work.
During the hearing on the motion, Judge Cole apparently commented that he hadn't missed the start of deer season himself since 1967.
Thanks to Mr. Hall for updating me on the status of the case. Those in relevant venues may want to keep an eye on the calendar and keep this argument in your back pocket.