How can you communicate with the judge in a DC injury case if you are a member of the jury?
Have you ever wondered how a jury knows what to do in DC injury case? While we all grow up learning it’s in our very own United States Constitution that people deserve a trial by impartial jurors, you don’t usually learn what to do as a juror. What most people many not realize is that in every case that uses a jury, the judge will issue a set of guidelines called the jury instruction. The jury instruction is essentially a set of rules issued to the jurors to help guide them through court proceedings in order to allow them to make the most knowledgeable and just deliberations possible.
Take a look at the jury instruction below from a DC auto accident case in civil court about how to communicate to the judge as a juror.
Communications Between Court and Jury (D.C. Std. Civ. Jury Insr. No. 3-5)
If it becomes necessary during your deliberations to communicate with me, you may send a note, signed by your foreperson or by one or more members of the jury. If you have a note, the foreperson should knock on the courtroom door, and the clerk will get the note and give it to me. If you are divided on any matter, you should not reveal in any note or otherwise how the jury is divided.
What does it mean?
Although jury instructions are intended to clarify deliberations in the courtroom, oftentimes they can be confusing. Experienced DC personal injury attorneys know that most people don’t go to law school, and thus, they know that is not uncommon to feel intimidated by the rather vague and seemingly complex legal language that is used. That’s entirely understandable. Let’s break it down.
First off, it’s important to understand what the term deliberations even refers to. In this case, deliberations references the time period in which jurors will discuss the case in private, often in a predetermined room.
During this time, jurors are not allowed to contact anyone else, for almost any reason. This is a rule to ensure that nobody gains outside knowledge that may create bias in the DC injury case.
This particular jury instruction points to what you should do if you absolutely need to contact a judge (which in most cases, you may not need).
So, what do you do if you have to talk to a judge?
If you need to talk to a judge at any point during deliberations (and you can’t discuss any aspect of your discussion), you should send your foreperson with a note signed be he/she along with a one or more other members of the jury.
The foreman will then knock on the courtroom door and hand the note to the clerk, who will ultimately give the message over to the judge.
Typically, for most DC injury cases you will not need to discuss anything with the judge during the time of deliberations. However, this jury instruction exists in the case that something arises outside of the scope of the case where you may need his/her authority. In most cases, it involves misconduct by one of the jurors.
Who is the foreperson?
You are probably asking yourself who is the foreperson, anyways? The answer is fairly simple. In every court case that has a jury, either the jury will vote on a foreperson or the judge will decide, depending on the specifics of the case (which you don’t need to worry about). The bottom line is that somebody will either be chosen or voted on to essentially act as the head juror. Though their say does not weight heavier than anybody else’s in a DC injury case, they have the responsibility of delivering messages on behalf of the whole jury.
The big thing to remember is if you do decide to send a message to the judge, it cannot be about the jury’s decision or lack thereof. Do not reveal the position of the jurors on the case, even if you are still undecided.
Please do not rely on any above statements as legal advice. You should always seek the advice of a licensed lawyer in order to assist you.