Events in a trial usually happen in a particular order, though the order may be changed by the judge. The usual order of events is set out below.
Step 1: Selection of the Jury.
Step 2: Opening Statements. The lawyers for each side will discuss their views of the case that you are to hear and will also present a general picture of what they intend to prove about the case. What the lawyers say in their opening statements is not evidence and, therefore, does not help prove their cases.
Step 3: Presentation of Evidence. All parties are entitled to present evidence. The testimony of witnesses who testify at trial is evidence. Evidence may also take the form of physical exhibits, such as a gun or a photograph. On occasion, the written testimony of people not able to attend the trial may also be evidence in the cases you will hear.
Many things you will see and hear during the trial are not evidence. For example, what the lawyers say in their opening and closing statements is not evidence. Physical exhibits offered by the lawyers, but not admitted by the
judge, are also to be disregarded, as is testimony that the judge orders stricken off the record.
Many times during the trial the lawyers may make OBJECTIONS to evidence presented by the other side or to questions asked by the other lawyer. Lawyers are allowed to object to these things when they consider them improper under the laws of evidence. It is up to the judge to decide whether each objection was valid or invalid, and whether, therefore, the evidence can be admitted or the question allowed. If the objection was valid, the judge will SUSTAIN THE OBJECTION. If the objection was not valid, the judge will OVERRULE THE OBJECTION. These rulings do not reflect the judge's opinion of the case or whether the judge favours or does not favour the evidence or the question to which there has been an objection.
It is your duty as a juror to decide the weight or importance of evidence or testimony allowed by the judge. You are also the sole judge of the CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES, that is, of whether their testimony is believable. In considering credibility, you may take into account the witnesses* opportunity and ability to observe the events about which they are testifying, their memory and manner while testifying, the reasonableness of their testimony when considered in the light of all the other evidence in the case, their possible bias or prejudice, and any other factors that bear on the believability of the testimony or on the importance to be given that testimony.
Step 4: The Instructions. Following presentation of all the evidence, the judge instructs the jury on the laws that are to guide the jury in their deliberations on a verdict. A copy of the instructions will be sent to the jury room for the use of jurors during their deliberations. All documents or physical objects that have been received into evidence will also be sent to the jury room.
Step 5: Closing Arguments The lawyers in the closing arguments summarize the case from their point of view. They may discuss the evidence that has been presented or comment on the credibility of witnesses. The lawyers may also discuss any of the judge's instructions that they feel are of special importance to their case. These arguments are not evidence.
Step 6: Jury Deliberation. The jury retires to the jury room to conduct the deliberations on the verdict in the case they have just heard. The jury first elects a foreman who will see to it that discussion is conducted in a sensible and orderly fashion, that all issues are fully and fairly discussed, and that every juror is given a fair chance to participate.
When a verdict has been reached, the foreman signs it and informs the bailiff. The jury returns to the courtroom, where the foreman presents the verdict. The judge then discharges the jury from the case.
TASK 10. Paraphrase the following words and expressions and explain their meanings.
- lawyers for each side;
- intend to prove;
- to testify:
- improper objections;
- it'sup to the judge;
- valid or invalid;
- to sustain the objection;
- to favour one of the sides;
- to summarize the case;
- the jury retires;
- sensible and orderly fashion.
TASK 11. Answer the questions.
1. What is the difference between the court reporter and the clerk?
2. What are the bailiffs duties?
3. What are the steps of a trial?
4. How is jury selected?
5. Define the word EVIDENCE. What can not be considered evidence?
6. Can you give examples of physical exhibits?
7. What can you tell about OBJECTIONS'?
8. What can you tell about INSTRUCTIONS!
9. Who presents CLOSING ARGUMENTS!
10. What have you learned about JURY DELIBERATIONS!
TASK 12. Read the text carefully and comment on the advice given to jurors. Be ready to explain the relevance of each item.
Do's and Don'ts for Jurors
1. DO arrive on time. The trial can not proceed until all jurors are present. Do return to the courtroom promptly after breaks and lunch.
2. DO pay close attention to witnesses. Concentrate both on what the witnesses say and on their manner while testifying. If you cannot hear what is being said, raise your hand and let the judge know.
3. DO keep an open mind all through the trial. DON'T form an opinion on the case until you and the other jurors have conducted your deliberations. Remember that if you make up your mind while listening to one witness's
testimony, you may not be able to consider fully and fairly the testimony that comes later.
4. DO listen carefully to the instructions read by the judge immediately before the jury begins its deliberations. Remember that it is your duty to accept what the judge says about the law to be applied to the case you have heard. DON'T ignore the judge's instructions because you disagree about what the law is or ought to be.
5. DON'T try to guess what the judge thinks about the case. Remember that the judge's rulings do not reflect personal views.
6. DON'T talk about the case with anyone while the trial is going on, not even with other jurors. It is equally important that you do not allow other people to talk about the case in your presence, even a family member.
7. DON' I talk to the lawyers, parties, or witnesses about anything. These people are not permitted to talk to jurors and may appear to ignore you outside the courtroom. Remember that they are not trying to be rude: they are merely trying to avoid giving the impression that something unfair is going on.
8. DON'T try do discover evidence on your own. For example, never go to the scene of any event that is part of the case you are hearing. Remember that cases must be decided only on the basis of evidence admitted in court.
9. DON'T let yourself get any information about the case from newspapers, television, radio, or any other source. Remember that news reports do not always give accurate or complete information. Even if the news about the trial is accurate, it cannot substitute for your own impressions about the case. If you should accidentally hear outside information about the case during trial, tell the bailiff about it in private.
10. DON'T take notes during the trial unless the judge gives you permission to do so.
11. DON'T attempt to ask witness any questions. If you were to take part in asking questions, it might be hard for you to remain impartial. In addition, because you are not trained in the law, your questions might not be proper under the rules of evidence. Most of your questions will be answered sooner or later in the course of questioning by the lawyers.
12. DON'T express your opinion about the case to other jurors until deliberations begin. A person who has expressed an opinion tends to pay attention only to evidence that supports it and to ignore evidence that points the other way.
\. DO consult with the other jurors before making up your mind about a verdict. Each juror must make up his or her own mind, but only after impartial group consideration of the evidence.
2. DO reason out differences of opinion between jurors by means of a complete and fair discussion of the evidence and of the judge's instructions.
DON'T lose your temper, try to bully other jurors, or refuse to listen to the opinions of other jurors.
3. DO reconsider your views in the light of your deliberations, and change them if you have become convinced they are wrong. DON'T change your convictions about the importance or effect of evidence, however, just because other jurors disagree with you or so that the jury can decide on a
4. DON'T play cards, read, or engage in any other diversion.
5. DON'T mark or write on exhibits or otherwise change or injure them.
6. DON'T try to guess what might happen if the case you have heard is appealed. Remember that courts of appeal deal only with legal questions and will not change your verdict if you decided the facts based on popular evidence
7. DON'T cast lots or otherwise arrive at your verdict by chance, or the verdict will be illegal. It is also illegal for a jury to determine the amounts decided on by each individual juror.
8. DON'T talk to anyone about your deliberations or about the verdict until the judge discharges the jury. After discharge you may discuss the verdict and the deliberations with anyone to whom you wish to speak. DON'T feel obligated to do so; no juror can be forced to talk without a court order DO be careful about what you say to others. You should not say or write anything that you would not be willing to state under oath.
TASK 13 Work in groups Make a list of seven false statements on what jurors should and shouldn 't do. Argue your opponents' list.
Unit II JUSTICE?
TASK I. Look at these statements What do you think of them as a potential juror?