Jurors may question witnesses in criminal trials, Third Circuit rules.Jurors may ask questions during a federal criminal trial if procedure is followed and the court's stewardship and rights of the accused are protected, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case of first impression. (United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. v. Hernandez, No. 98-5266, 1999 WL 308807 (3d Cir. May 17, 1999).)
The unanimous ruling upheld a New Jersey district court judge's practice of allowing jurors to ask witnesses written questions that are reviewed by the judge and lawyers outside hearing of the jury and posed to the witness only if the court agrees.
Julio Hernandez was on trial for hijacking hijacking
Crime of seizing possession or control of a vehicle from another by force or threat of force. Although by the late 20th century hijacking most frequently involved the seizure of an airplane and its forcible diversion to destinations chosen by the air pirates, when a tractor-trailer and stealing its cargo. A juror juror n. any person who actually serves on a jury. Lists of potential jurors are chosen from various sources such as registered voters, automobile registration or telephone directories. wanted to ask a witness, "What kind of rear doors are on the rear of the trailer?" Chief U.S. District Judge Anne Thompson decided not to ask the question.
Nevertheless, defense counsel said the question suggested in its substance and timing that the juror assumed Hernandez was guilty. Counsel also objected to the practice of entertaining juror questions. Thompson countered that the question was merely a fact question and declined to voir dire voir dire
(Anglo-French; “to speak the truth”)
In law, the act or process of questioning prospective jurors to determine whether they are qualified and suitable for service on a jury. the witness.
The issue of first impression was the more general challenge to allowing juror questions. Third Circuit Judge Theodore McKee Theodore Alexander McKee is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge McKee was born on June 5, 1947 in Rochester, New York. He received a B.A. from the State University of New York at Cortland in 1969 and received his J.D. said other courts of appeal that have addressed the issue have not adopted a rule barring juror questions.
For instance, in United States v. Polowichak, the court did not approve jurors asking questions in front of other jurors but said the judge could require the questions in writing and could restate re·state
tr.v. re·stat·ed, re·stat·ing, re·states
To state again or in a new form. See Synonyms at repeat.
re·state them. (783 F.2d 410 (4th Cir. 1986).) In United States v. Sutton, the court called the practice of allowing jurors to ask questions "a procedure fraught with perils," but ultimately allowed it. (970 F.2d 1001 (1st Cir. 1992).)
Other state and federal courts have ruled that juror questioning of witnesses is a matter that should be left to the judge's discretion. (See American Bar The American Bar is a drinking establishment at the Savoy Hotel in London.
Opened in 1898 when cocktail were being first introduced to London.
The term American Bar comes from the 1930s when cocktails were first gaining popularity in the United States. Ass'n, Civil Trial Practice Standards 8 (1998).)
The practice has been criticized by the Eighth Circuit: "[J]uror interrogation interrogation
In criminal law, process of formally and systematically questioning a suspect in order to elicit incriminating responses. The process is largely outside the governance of law, though in the U.S. of witnesses presents substantial risk of reversal and retrial retrial n. a new trial granted upon the motion of the losing party, based on obvious error, bias or newly-discovered evidence. (See: newly-discovered evidence) . Where a record is properly made and the record permits a conclusion that prejudice occurred, this will be the inevitable result." (United States v. Welliver, 976 F.2d 1148 (8th Cir. 1992).)
Juror questioning is on the books in some states, at least for civil trials. For example, since December 1995, Arizona jurors have been allowed to submit written questions to the court, provided the attorneys are allowed to object outside the presence of the jury.
Proponents say allowing jurors to ask questions involves jurors in the trial and may help them understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue in complex cases. Most supporters agree that juror questions should not be asked until after cross-examination, that they should not be considered part of the lawyer's case, and that counsel should get a chance outside the hearing of the jury to object to a juror's question.
The ABAs Civil Trial Practice Standards, which went into effect in January 1998, support this practice. "With appropriate safeguards, juror questioning can materially advance the pursuit of truth, particularly when a jury is confronted with a complex case, complicated evidence, or unclear testimony," said the task force report.
Although Thompson took precautions precautions Infectious disease The constellation of activities intended to minimize exposure to an infectious agent; precautions imply that the isolation of an infected Pt is optional, but not mandatory. in the Hernandez case--requiring questions to be in writing and posed by the court rather than the attorneys--the assistant federal defender argued that allowing jurors to question witnesses violates a criminal defendant's rights. By not investigating alleged juror misconduct, Thompson denied Hernandez his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial The Right to a fair trial is an essential right in all countries respecting the rule of law. It is explicitly proclaimed in Article Ten of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, and Article Six of the European Convention of Human before an impartial jury, the defender said.
The Third Circuit noted there was nothing to suggest juror misconduct except the unsupported inference that the juror assumed Hernandez's guilt. "We do not think that one fact question which is submitted to a judge in writing, but not even asked, can be labeled an abuse of discretion," McKee wrote.