After watching movies and TV dramas about lawyers and courts, we all know that this is not what the judge means when he yells out “ORDER IN THE COURT!”
Some standup comedians might eagerly make jokes about people in the courtroom sending in orders to the judge for their lunch requests.
All kidding aside, is there ever an instance where the judge or the court officer will ask for lunch orders?
Or, put another way, will the judge or the court ever buy lunch for people in the courtroom?
The answer is yes.
There is only one instance where the court will buy lunch for certain people in the courtroom.
It's when all the testimony has finished.
It's after the attorneys have given their closing arguments.
It is after the judge has given his legal instructions to the jury.
It is after the jury leaves the courtroom to go back and deliberate.
Before the jury gets started, the court officer will enter the jury room with menus.
He will then ask each of the jurors who are participating in jury deliberations what they would like to eat for lunch.
Each of the jurors then selects what they would like to eat, and the court officer collects that information.
During each day that the jury is deliberating, the court officer will repeat this process.
This is the only time that the court will actually buy lunch for the jurors.
The judge does not want the jury going out to lunch.
The judge wants the jury to remain together during the entire course of deiberations.
Each of those jurors has promised to reach a decision about whether the injured victim is more likely right than wrong in what they are claiming.
When the jury begins the deliberation process and they begin the discussions to determine who is entitled to a verdict, if they do not reach a verdict by lunchtime, lunch will be delivered to them.
The judge will likely have told them to take a break during lunch while in the jury room.
Once they have completed their meal they are to continue discussing the case.
For those of you wondering, the judge will not order dinner for the jurors.
Nor are these jurors kept overnight in the courthouse or in a local hotel or motel.
That is commonly known as sequestering a jury.
That really only happens in criminal cases and often in high-profile criminal cases.
The judge does not keep the jury overnight in civil lawsuits involving accident cases, medical malpractice cases or wrongful death cases.
The jury is free to go home at the end of the day and return home to their families.
You might also be wondering whether a juror or can order anything or everything they want on the menu.
Unlike a buffet that has a welcome sign saying “All-you-can-eat buffet $5.99," the lunch menu is not like that.
In my experience, I have found that jurors do not abuse the privilege for ordering lunch on the court's dime.
Instead, they view lunch as a necessary requirement to get through the day in order to achieve their goal of reaching a verdict.
Jurors will typically order only what they can eat and are not stock up to bring food home for their friends or family.
You might also think that the food is going to come from the court cafeteria.
Most of the time it does not.
The court will often get their lunch from a local sandwich shop or deli in order to provide quick, fresh and fast access to food for the jury.
The judge certainly does not want a revolting jury on his hands who is starving all because the sandwich shop was unable to get food to them on time.
During the course the trial, jurors often can be found in the courthouse cafeteria eating lunch next to litigants and attorneys.
Likewise, they are free to leave the courthouse and return after lunch.
During the trial, the judge reminds the jury that under no circumstance are they to have any conversation with the litigants, witnesses or the attorneys.
That means, if they see anyone involved in the trial in the hallway or even in the cafeteria or outside of the courthouse, there have no conversations whatsoever with them.
In addition, the judge instructs them that if any one of those participants in the lawsuit approaches them and talks to them, they are to report that encounter to the judge at their earliest opportunity, at which time the judge will deal with it immediately.