The Jury Is In

In July 2012, Illinois became one of several states to allow juror questions, encouraging juror engagement in the process of a civil jury trial and emphasizing the importance of a unique American right, the resolution of disputes by fellow citizens. A year later, Illinois attorneys, including the attorneys at Adler & Adler, P.C., believe that allowing jurors to ask questions of witnesses during civil trials benefits the jury trial process by providing jurors with a new tool to aid them in understanding the case and the evidence and reaching a just verdict.

Judges now routinely tell jurors at the beginning of the case that they have a right to submit their own written questions for witnesses before the witness leaves the courtroom. The Judge also explains that some questions will not be admissible. The Judge reviews juror questions with attorneys, and the questions are put into the written trial record. Attorneys have the opportunity to object to any questions that seek information that may not be admissable. Once the Judge rules on admissibility, he or she asks all admissible questions of the witness. If necessary, the Judge may re-word the questions for neutrality or grammar. Attorneys are then allowed to ask the witness follow-up questions--but only on issues raised by the jurors' questions.

Because jurors now have an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding or confusion they may have regarding the witness' testimony, while the witness is still on the stand, the law may be improving juror comprehension and attention. Clarifying confusion early on can impact the way jurors process information throughout the rest of the trial.

After many days of testimony and breaks in the proceedings, jurors are sometimes understandibly fatigued before "their job" of deliberations begins. Being allowed to actively participate in the trial by asking questions may help jurors remain engaged and involved throughout the entire trial.

Jurors' questions pose offer trial attorneys vital insight into what must be addressed more thoroughly and clearly and what are the most important issues from the jury's point of view. Attorneys can use this insight to adjust their trial presentation, when necessary.

Illinois civil courts follow the American Jury Commission's recommended process for allowing juror questions of witnesses.

  

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Adler & Adler, P.C.
134 N. LaSalle
Ste. 1410
Chicago, IL 60602
24 Hours: (312)443-1488
info@adlerandadlerlaw.com

  

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Adler & Adler, PC serves the Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation legal needs of individuals throughout Illinois, including all areas of Chicago, from the South Shore to Rogers Park and from Kenwood to Garfield Ridge, as well as the suburbs of Darien, Hickory Hills, Oak Forest, Worth, Willow Springs, Countryside, Harvey, Cicero, Naperville, Aurora, Joliet, Evanston, Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove, Elgin, Calumet City, Urbana-Champaign, Rockford, Norridge, Waukegan, and Kankakee, and the counties of Cook, Will, DuPage, Kankakee, Iroquois, Kendall, Grundy and more.