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This Juror is Confused. She Doesn't Understand Something Your Medical Expert Said. She'd Like Him to Explain. Can She Raise Her Hand and Simply Shout Out a Question?

The short answer is no, she can't.
She can't just shout out a question and hope that the medical expert will stop in his tracks and answer her question.
That would be too simple, right?

In fact, in New York, I'm not aware of ANY court or any Judge in State Court that allows a juror to do this.

Why not?

Two reasons...
The first is that it's disruptive.
The second is that the question and the topic may be inappropriate for the witness to answer or the jury to learn about.

There are instances however where the trial judge will allow a juror to ask questions, but not in the way you think..
In a courtroom where the judge allows jurors to ask witnesses questions, let me explain how this works.

The witness is testifying.
Your lawyer is questioning this witness.
He has a certain agenda.

He needs this witness to testify about certain facts.
He's got to make that happen in order to show that you are more likely right than wrong that you're entitled to a verdict in your favor.
If jurors were allowed to ask questions, there's the chance that they'd be interrupting all the time.

That would be disruptive to the witness.
That would be disruptive to the attorneys.
That would be disruptive to the other jurors.

In courtrooms where jurors are allowed to ask questions, here's what typically happens.
Your lawyer calls a witness to the stand to testify.
AFTER he is done asking the witness questions, the judge asks the jury if they have any questions.

If a juror says yes, he tells them to write the question down on paper and then hand it to the court officer.
The court officer takes the paper and hands it to the judge.
The judge silently reads the question and decides if it's appropriate.

If it is appropriate, the JUDGE will ask the witness the question.
The judge will usually ask the jury if that answers the question.
If not, the judge might ask some follow up questions on his own to try and clarify the confusion.

If the judge does NOT think the question is appropriate, he will tell the jury that they question they submitted is not legally appropriate or relevant to the issues in the case.

This process continues after each attorney has finished questioning a witness.
This way, the judge controls any and all questions posed by the jury while still giving them an opportunity to clarify something that is confusing to them.

To learn more about this topic, I invite you to watch the quick video below...

 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer