The Wall St. Journal blog has a short post about the small, but growing, practice of some courts who allow jurors to ask questions during the trial. The post is attracting some good commentary, so head on over and drop your 2 cents into the comment bucket.
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The most interesting part of the experiment is that the lawyers and parties mightactually get a chance to learn something about what the jurors are thinkingduring the proceeding.
When I was last a juror (many many moons ago, in Howard County MD), the pre-trial instructions by the judge included a mention of “if you’ve got a question, write it down and give it to the bailiff.”
At one point I did have a question about the evidence (was the map being shown to us a current one or one from the time of the event?) and followed the procedure… and was publicly chastised by the judge. “If the question was important enough to have been asked the other attorney should have asked it.”
If somone’s being asked to make a decision, I’d think it’s pretty important that they’re allowed to make sure they understand the facts.
I’ve read about “the CSI effect” and wouldn’t want jurors going down the road of “have you checked this or that?” though.