This week the Michigan Supreme Court announced changes to how state jurors process and learn information during trial. The reform measures, which reflect a growing trend across the country, will give Michigan jurors a more active and a less passive role in the trial process.
These upcoming changes also serve as a counter balance to the problem of jurors using technology to discuss or research cases. By allowing jurors to take notes, ask questions and discuss the case prior to deliberations, the court removes many of the reasons why jurors feel the need to conduct improper communications and research.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press: Michigan jurors will be able to pose question to witnesses, take notes, get ...
Starting Sept. 1:
Jurors can, with judge’s OK, submit questions in civil and criminal trials.
Jurors can, with judge’s OK, take notes during the case and use them in deliberations.
Jurors in civil cases can, with the judge’s OK, discuss the evidence among themselves when all are present in the jury room before the conclusion of the case.
Jurors will be given pretrial instructions covering their duties, trial procedures and the applicable law.
At the judge’s discretion, attorneys may give interim commentary as well as their opening statement and final argument.
Judge must give juries a written copy of the final instructions and must invite jurors to ask questions to clarify the instructions.
If there is a deadlock or impasse, a judge “may invite” jurors to list the outstanding issues if the judge can help “in clarifying or amplifying the final instructions.”