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Should Jurors Ask Questions in the Criminal Courtroom?

Brian J Smith May 6, 2013

The jury is out. In recent years there has been a change in court proceedings in some states, allowing members of the jury to ask questions of the witnesses. There is still much debate about whether this new practice is helpful or if it hinders trials.

The rules differ by state. States that currently promote jurors asking questions in a trial are Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and Wyoming.


Here is a look at some arguments for allowing members of the jury to ask questions during a trial:

  1. Allowing jurors to ask questions can improve their comprehension of the case so that any misunderstandings they might have are cleared up early on.

  2. Juries get tired. Allowing jurors to ask questions piques their interest and keeps them engaged. If a juror is allowed to actively participate in a trial they are more likely to pay closer attention.

  3. Questions asked by jurors can help attorneys understand how a jury is processing the information in the case, which in turn allows them to better steer the conversation.

  4. Jurors who are allowed to ask questions during a trial are much less likely to turn to the internet and other outside sources for answers.

If you are a member of the jury in the state of Nevada, would you enjoy being permitted to ask questions of a Las Vegas criminal lawyer? There are many states, including Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Nebraska that currently have laws prohibiting jurors from participating in a trial for the following reasons:

  1. Allowing jurors to engage in a trial by asking questions takes too much time and can distract from the trial.

  2. Attorneys will no longer have control over what questions are asked, which may interfere with their strategy.

  3. If a juror’s question is answered with any hint of anger or emotion, the jury may infer inaccurate information.

  4. The jury is supposed to remain neutral. Allowing the jury to participate may alter their perspective and draw their focus more on their own questions than those of the attorneys, which may ultimately influence their decision.

What do you think? Should the jury be allowed to ask questions in a criminal trial?

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