Washington Law Review


Brian C. Kalt


Several state statutes allow the state to choose the county in which to prosecute a person who allegedly committed a crime near a county line. Because these buffer statutes apply even in cases where the location of the crime is not in doubt, they are inappropriate on two levels. First, they are needless as a matter of policy; other statutes solve all of the problems that buffers purport to address, but without the detrimental effects. Second, they conflict with the principle—traditional in some states but constitutionally required in others—of trial by a jury of the vicinage, i.e., from the neighborhood in which the crime was committed. While theorists have recently argued that local juries are important because they allow communities to govern themselves, courts' treatment of buffer statutes makes it clear that, in practice, vicinage is not considered from this community-centered perspective.

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