MI Experiments With Changes In How Juries Get Evidence


The Michigan Supreme Court is debating whether to change how juries operate during trials — and some Macomb County residents will be among the first to test the proposed rules, reports the Detroit Free Press. For the next 14 months, jurors in 12 courts could be allowed to discuss the trial with each other before the case wraps up. They’ll be encouraged to submit questions to the judge in writing before a witness is excused. The changes are part of a potentially statewide jury reform that aims to make jurors’ jobs easier to understand.

“It’s sort of to address human nature,” said Judge David Viviano. “We tell people they can’t talk to anyone — not their spouses, not even the people they’re serving with on the jury — about the case while it’s happening. That’s counterintuitive to human nature.” Among other proposed changes: Jurors will be given binders with the legal instructions that the judge typically only gives orally; they each will get copies of documents that were entered into evidence; experts testifying for the defense or prosecution in either civil or criminal cases could be called back-to-back so that jurors can hear all of the technical testimony at once. Or a judge could opt for the experts to debate each other, having both of them answer questions from either the judge or a moderator.

Link: http://www.freep.com/article/20081012/NEWS04/810120503

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