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Monday, February 02, 2009

SHOULD JURORS ASK QUESTIONS?


Here's the Herald article summarizing the experiment some south florida judges have been conducting with allowing jurors to submit questions after a witness testifies. The juror writes the question down and both attorneys and the judge review it. If it meets with approval, the Judge asks the witness the question. Judge David Miller, just back from Civil, where he allowed jurors to ask questions confirms in the article that he will continue the practice in Criminal.


Rumpole says: why would any trial lawyer not want to know what is in the mind of jurors? 

POLITICS.

Politics is fascinating. President Obama is set to nominate Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire as the Secretary of Commerce.  Gregg is a Republican and the Governor of New Hampshire, who would appoint his replacement is a Democrat.  The loss of one Republican and the addition of one Democrat in the Senate would give the Democrats a filibuster proof majority, and make Gregg the biggest turncoat Republican since...well, probably the biggest turncoat Republican ever. 

The WSJ reports here that Gregg has accepted the nomination upon securing the agreement of New Hampshire's Governor to replace him with a Republican, keeping the numbers in the Senate stable.

Politics...gotta love it. 

TAXES

Another Obama appointee is in tax trouble and this one withdraws from consideration, the NY Times reports here. 

Just how long can this go on?

Or looked at another way, do even the best and brightest of americans have a little something in their closet? And should that keep them from serving? 

UPDATE: Former Senator Tom Daschle was perhaps uniquely qualified lead the discussion on national health policy. Make no mistake about this- his nomination was derailed by senators who are supported by powerful groups who have a vested interest in keeping health care reform at bay.  We all suffer by what has happened here. 

19 comments:

thetruth said...

The trial lawyer who doesn't want to know is the one sneaking something past the ASA. The one who has a difficult fact that the ASA has not exploited. The one who believes the unanswered question equates to reasonable doubt. The one who doesnt want a savvy juror asking the question and then knowing the answer to. C'mon Rump-pretty elementary

old guy said...

Better question:
Why would any defense attorney NOT want a juror to cause a mistrial? One question about Priors or Miranda ought to be enough.

CAPTAIN said...

Rump:

You stated in your intro that Judge Miller "allowed" jurors to ask questions in civil.

The rule is "shall" and reads:

RULE 1.452. QUESTIONS BY JURORS

(a) Questions Permitted. The court shall permit jurors to submit to the court written questions directed to witnesses or to the court. Such questions will be submitted after all counsel have concluded their questioning of a witness.

(b) Procedure. Any juror who has a question directed to the witness or the court shall prepare an unsigned, written question and give the question to the bailiff, who will give the question to the judge.

(c) Objections. Out of the presence of the jury, the judge will read the question to all counsel, allow counsel to see the written question, and give counsel an opportunity to object to the question.

Cap Out ...

Anonymous said...

You were actually right.

Miller was doing it BEFORE the rule went into place and he has been a very vocal advocate of jury questions all along.

Miller is a strange guy who is no friend of the defense Bar but, he really loves jury questions.

Here are the most popular questions in a criminal matter:

1. Does he have any prior arrests for this?
2. If we find him guilty, will he have to go to jail?
3. Why did the police not question him?
4. Where's the breathalizer test stuff?
5. Why did you only show us part of the taped statements?
6. Can we have pizza for dinner?

CAPTAIN said...

Breaking News reported by MH:

Daschle withdraws as nominee for HHS secretary

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination on Tuesday to be President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services secretary, faced with problems over back taxes and potential conflicts of interest.

Rumpole said...

Here's Bill Cowher's interview with the WSJ two days before the game. Prescient?

Even with Roethlisberger's not-so-great statistics? "He's never been about stats, he's about winning," Mr. Cowher says. "There's a lot to be said for that. Ben has a way of making a play that's not there."

The success of Ben is more things that are improvised. Let me tell you, when it's in the fourth quarter and you get the look on his face, he's got the confidence he's not going to be denied. If I was Arizona I would not want Pittsburgh within a touchdown of me in the fourth quarter because he has done this time and time again and he will be in his domain."

Rumpole said...

Let me get this straight El Capitan- the rule is that now in every case the jurors must be allowed to ask questions? I tried 9 cases last year and three so far this year, although one was in fed ct, and no one even mentioned questions. What gives?

CAPTAIN said...

The Captain Responds ...

Remember that I printed you a Civil Rule of Procedure. This Rule has not YET been adopted in Criminal Court and it is up to the judge whether they want to have juror questioning in criminal cases.

So, it should be interesting to find out:

1. How many judges, other than Miller, are automatically doing it in every criminal case.

2. Are there any attorneys out there, defense or State (hey Abe do you still read this Blog, let's get some feedback from you on this), that will affirmatively request juror questioning, even when the judge does not bring up the issue first.

3. In civil it is required. I have watched a few civil trials and seen it in action. I have also spoken with several judges that sit in civil. Some like it, some don't. Sometimes you get an active panel that likes to ask lots of questions. Most of the time you get the same one or two jurors who ask a question here and there and it does not seem to lengthen the trial that much.

Cap Out ...

Anonymous said...

Rumpole:

Check out Rule 3.371 and Standard Jury Instruction 2.13, as well as In re Amendments, 967 So. 2d 178 (Fla. 2007). After appointing a Blue Ribbon Panel, the Florida Supreme Court approved a whole series of amendments and rule changes to allow greater jury participation during both civil and criminal trial. It's also in my book.

CK

CAPTAIN said...

On Cowher on Big Ben:

The stat I read after the game was the most telling of all: Big Ben has more fourth quarter and overtime comeback wins than any other QB presently playing the game.

In five years, the Super Bowl was his 17th 4th qtr./OT comeback win.

Hey Rump, how come you didn't have that state before the game?

That stat is MONEY!

Cap Out ..

Anonymous said...

Rump I'm not politically savvy by any means...but the president has now picked 3 people with tax problems. If I had failed to pay over 100K in taxes, I would be in federal prison and no apology would be acceptable!!! give me a break...300 million people in this country to pick from and he's picking these morons!!! read the newspaper that discusses how daschle has been making 3 million a year after losing reelection. He's doing precisely the stuff obama said was wrong with D.C.

Scott "The Ayatollah of rock n rolla" Saul said...

Who cares about all of this!

Langerado 2009 was just cancelled. I have nowhere to rock out.

I'm in mourning.

SHIT!

So much for Change.... said...

"Former Senator Tom Daschle was perhaps uniquely qualified lead the discussion on national health policy. Make no mistake about this- his nomination was derailed by senators who are supported by powerful groups who have a vested interest in keeping health care reform at bay. We all suffer by what has happened here." PUUUUHHHHH-LEEEEEAAAAASSSSE. I wanna puke! . Are you telling me that among the 305,743,024 people in this country, (http://www.census.gov/population/
www/popclockus.html) the ONLY person qualified to head HHS is a recidivist tax cheat? Tom Dash-hole is a limousine liberal who thinks he is too important to have to pay taxes on his limo. Now I know why the liberal democrats are always in favor of raising taxes - they don't pay them!! The NEW Obama slogan - H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E. (Or, perhaps L-O-B-B-Y-I-S-T since he has hired 17 of them and counting, notwithstanding his promise not to hire ANY!!!!)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have a lot more confidence in a government that is run by tax cheats--maybe they'll leave the rest of us taxpayers alone.

abe laeser said...

Of course!

I anticipate the time when I spend weeks picking a jury, have thirty witnesses lined up to testify, then have a juror ask if the defendant's tattoo is one he got in prison.

I ask the questions I want, the defense then asks questions, and we both hope that we covered the issues well enough to argue them to the jury.

How could their questions really give us new insight? Would they warn us about what ONE juror might be thinking?

Holy S--t. Cannot wait for a mistrial caused by a juror. Or, even worse, the judge lets it go to verdict and the Supreme Court applies their 'death is different' standard - and trashes months of work by all participants.

Let them write their questions down -- then mail them to the lawyers after the trial is over, + we can decide if we would care to reply. Does that make any less sense?

This is an awful idea + the judges who do not agree with me (yes, sometimes my ego is right) have limited insight into the down side of their creativity.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:13. Are you kidding? Are you actually ADVOCATING that being a crook is an positive attribute for a government employee? Are you really of the mind that there should be two sets of rules - one for the governed and one for the governors? "Let them eat cake."

Anonymous said...

OK, fess up.

Do you guys pay taxes on the pay for your nanny, your housekeeper and the illegal guy who cuts your grass?

Do you have proof that they are here legally?

People who live in glass houses....

Anonymous said...

Daschle's didn't forget to pay taxes for the nanny or the guy that cuts his lawn...he forgot that he was riding around in a limo with a driver for FREE for 3 years. This BASTARD should be prosecuted even though he "stepped up" and paid. Shit...even though wesley snipes tried to pay back the taxes he 'forgot' to pay...they still prosecuted him.

Anonymous said...

What kind of jerk would hire a documented worker. I did not come here, "legally" why should they?

One is not fit to hold office unless they hired a undocumented nanny.