This Article addresses the concerns as well as the advantages when courts allow jurors to submit questions to the court and/or witnesses. Based on reviewing the content of 2,271 juror questions submitted in 164 cases, the author categorizes what jurors typically ask and to whom jurors direct their questions. Most juror questions were directed to witnesses and experts. In both criminal and civil cases, jurors typically asked facts about the case, motives of both the witness and the defendant/party, and common practices of professions often unfamiliar to laypersons. In criminal cases, jurors were more likely to question specific eyewitness evidence or facts. More fitting to civil cases, jurors frequently asked financial questions.
Most juror questions aimed to clarify testimony, not to introduce new evidence or interrogate witnesses. Jurors utilize the question-asking procedure to enhance their role as a neutral fact finder, not to the detriment of the adversary system. Based on empirical evaluations, and with appropriate judicial discretion and court management of questioning, the concerns of critics appear unfounded.
Nicole L. Mott,
The Current Debate on Juror Questions: "To Ask or Not to Ask, That Is the Question",
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol78/iss3/8