Jury questions

It a rare trial where, prior to a verdict being delivered, there is not at least one question from the jury.

Jury trials generally involve a jury, sitting mute, as evidence and arguments are presented for the jury to consider.

In due course, the jury are given direction by the judge and then sent out to deliberate. It a rare trial where, prior to a verdict being delivered, there is not at least one question from the jury.

Naturally, any question or request for clarification (whether it be of evidence or the law) should be answered. Questions about evidence can only be answered from material already in evidence. Questions of law be answered, but if addressing the issue will obfuscate rather than clarify, consideration needs to be given to whether a question should be answered at all.

As R v Hickey [2002] NSWCCA 474 makes clear, any question of law must be addressed, even if the jury subsequently indicates that a verdict has been reached before the answer has been given.

Salama

R v Salama [1999] NSWCCA 105

 

“Notwithstanding the jury's apparent resolution of the issue to their own satisfaction, it was important that the question be answered. It was also important that they should then deliberate further in the light of that answer. Once the verdict was delivered, the opportunity to answer the question, and instruct the jury, was lost.”