Jurors as grown-ups

by Walter Olson on July 7, 2011

New Michigan rules allow juries to ask questions and judges to summarize evidence for their benefit. Michigan Chief Justice (and Overlawyered favorite) Robert Young Jr. “says jurors will no longer be treated like kindergarteners” under the new rules. [ABA Journal; my take back when]

{ 7 comments }

1 AMcA 07.07.11 at 4:34 pm

The Seventh Circuit has a project which provides rules under which jurors may ask questions. I’ve been through a couple trials with juror questions, and not to be a killjoy here, but their questions have not really been illuminating. And the procedure requires a sidebar and eats a lot of time. District judges have been opting out of the experiment, it seems – I haven’t had a judge raise it in a couple years.

2 Ron Coleman 07.07.11 at 7:57 pm

They will still dress like kindergartners, however.

3 Difster 07.08.11 at 4:27 am

Let’s see what happens as soon as they start asking about jury nullification.

4 Scott 07.08.11 at 6:18 am

@AMcA maybe the questions were illuminating for that very reason? I give scientific presentations and sometimes the questions are so far off base I come to several conclusions. Either my explanation was flawed or not clear, the audience member didn’t have the background to understand it or their own agenda got in the way of understanding.

Better to know than not know.

5 Bob Lipton 07.08.11 at 7:51 am

When you talk and they don’t get it, it’s not their fault. It’s yours.

Bob

6 William Nuesslein 07.08.11 at 10:41 am

“When you talk and they don’t get it, it’s not their fault. It’s yours.”

The OJ jury were shown Colin Yamanuchie’s (soory for the spelling) DNA Runs showing the match of OJ’s pattern to that of the real killer. Those runs were beautiful and easy to understand. Either the bars lined up or they didn’t. The non-OJ bars were all over the place. The jury shrugged off the dispositive evidence for tribal reasons. I’m still mad as hell about that.

7 Ron Coleman 07.08.11 at 4:09 pm

But that’s not the jury “not getting it,” William. It’s about us not getting the jury.

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