Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Perry Mason Moment Perhaps?

The Seventh Circuit Bar Association just released a report on a project where they tested new ideas for juries in the federal courts. The one I liked the most was allowing the jury to ask questions right after both sides were done questioning a witness. If so, they submitted questions in writing to the court. The judge would review them with counsel from both sides. Sometimes they were reworded. Sometimes they were discarded. But the process allowed jurors to clarify points which help them better understand the evidence and testimony.

If you've ever served on a jury--and you should at every opportunity--you may have felt more like a member of an audience as opposed to a participant in the legal process. I remember sitting there wondering, "What about...?" and going to the deliberation room to find a couple other jurors had the same question. While it may not have been a make-or-break issue, we wanted to be thorough and fair.

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