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Judge and Jury Reversible Error

Posted on March 11, 2014 in DUI Case

A competent DUI attorney is vital for success in trial. A courtroom is filled with complex nuances and procedures. Only a smart and aggressive DUI attorney can protect your rights.

A particular courtroom nuance is the role of a judge during jury deliberations. Jury deliberations are a private discussion amongst the jurors where they apply the facts to the law and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

However, under certain situations, the jury may have questions for the judge. The general rule in Arizona is that reversible error occurs when a trial judge communicates with jurors after they have retired to deliberate. It is almost impossible to ascertain the impact of judge and jury communication, because unless the defendant and counsel have been notifiedand given an opportunity to be present, the communication is almost always fraught with prejudice to the defendant.

For example, a judge may not enter a jury deliberation room without attorneys present and answer a question whether the jury renders a guilty verdict if the judge will be lenient in sentencing. This is because the role of a judge is behind the bench and jurors may give undue weight to an answer a judge may provide. State v. Burnetts, 80 Ariz. 208, 295 P.2d377 (1956).

Another is if a judge does not enter the jury room, but sends questions about the facts of the case and then answers the questions from his or her own recollection. State v. Robin, 112 Ariz. 467, 543 P.2d 779 (1975). Although the judge did not physically enter the jury room, he or she may unduly persuade the jurors due to his or her position as judge.

Only smart and aggressive DUI attorneys thoroughly understand courtroom nuances and procedures. If you are accused of DUI, you need an attorney that understands how to prevent improper judge-jury communication.

Here at the Rosenstein Law Group, we are well established in DUI Defense. We have knowledgeable and hardworking attorneys, who will fight to make sure that your trial and verdict are fair and unbiased.

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