It's been a long trial.

Two weeks of non-stop fighting.

Fighting among the parties.

Fighting among the attorneys.

Fighting with the Judge's rulings.

It's been exhausting.

Each side has waited two years to have this case decided.

It's a medical malpractice case.

Here in New York.

The patient claims her doctor was careless.

She claims his carelessness caused her injury.

She also says her injuries are permanent.

The doctor says "Nonsense."

"I did nothing wrong."

Then he says "Even if I did something wrong, so did you!"

Then, he has the nerve to say "Anyway, your injuries are not really as bad as you claim them to be.”

The injured patient and her attorney have put on many witnesses in support of their case.

They brought in multiple medical experts to testify that they were more likely right than wrong that what they were claiming was true.

The defense also brought in medical experts to dispute this claim.

Two weeks of trial.

Hours and hours of sitting in the courtroom each and every day.

Hours spent listening to cross examination.

Hours spent listening to opening arguments and legal instructions from the judge.

Hours spent waiting around for court to start.

Hours spent waiting for the Judge to make legal rulings in order to move forward with testimony.

At the very end of the trial, after the attorneys gave closing remarks, the judge has given the jury the legal instructions.

It is now time for the jury to go back and deliberate.

It's now time for the jury to answer a series of questions known as 'jury interrogatories'.

The answers to those questions will establish the jury's verdict.

One of the legal instructions given to the jury is that they have the ability to see, hold, read and review any exhibits admitted into evidence during the trial.

Another legal instruction is that they need not rely on their memory about something a witness has said.

If they have a dispute about what a witness said during trial, the judge will have the court reporter read back testimony in this case.

You should know that there is a court reporter, also known as a court stenographer, recording everything that is said in the courtroom.

If the jury has questions about what was said by a particular witness, the judge simply asks the court reporter to return to the courtroom and in front of the entire jury, the court reporter will re-read those sections of testimony that the jury is asking about.

Thirty minutes after the jury started to deliberate they sent a note to the Judge.

It's not an unusual request.

The jury wanted testimony read back.

The Judge gets the note.

The Judge calls the attorneys into his private chambers to discuss the jury note.

The Judge tells both attorneys that the jury has requested testimony to be read back.

The defense attorney asks the Judge “Which testimony do they want read back and which section of it?”

The Judge says “You don't understand. They don't want just one portion of one witness's testimony read back, they want ALL the testimony for the entire trial read back!”

Both attorneys are shocked.

The Judge is shocked.

The Judge even asks “Were they not listening throughout the entire trial?”

The Judge is upset.

Each person involved in this trial has now invested two weeks of their lives seeking to get this jury to resolve this matter once and for all.

Now the jury has thrown a wrench into the mix and wants every single word of every witness to be read back to them.

That would take almost another two weeks have all the testimony read back.

The Judge declares “That's not going to happen.”

The Judge then tells the attorneys what he's going to do.

He then instructs the court officer to bring the jury back into the courtroom.

The attorneys take their place at counsel's table.

The litigants come back into the courtroom to observe.

The jury is now brought in to the courtroom to hear what the Judge has to say.

The Judge starts out gently.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I received your note asking to have all the trial testimony read back. That's not going to happen.”

“Each of you have been present the past two weeks listening carefully to all the testimony from each and every witness.”

“When I told you a little while ago that you have the ability to have testimony read back, it did not mean you have the ability to have the entire trial read back. That would take another two weeks to go through all the testimony again.”

Instead, the purpose of having testimony read back is so that you can review a specific portion of testimony of a particular witness whom you did not recall or have a dispute about. This allows you to clarify exactly what was said about a particular issue.”

If you find during the course of your deliberations that you cannot recall what a witness has said and would like to have a section or a portion of a witness's testimony read back, we can certainly accommodate you and have that done.

However, we will not have the entire trial testimony read back from start to finish.

Please return to the jury room to continue your deliberations. That is all.”

To learn more about jury instructions in civil lawsuits here in New York, I invite you watch the quick video below...

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer