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New Mich. Rules Allow Jurors to Ask Questions, Judges to Summarize Evidence

Posted Jun 30, 2011 7:16 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Michigan Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. says jurors will no longer be treated like kindergarteners under new rules adopted by his court.

Now jurors may take notes, discuss the evidence throughout civil trials, and pass along questions for witnesses to the trial judge, report the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and Interlochen Public Radio. The rules (PDF posted by the Free Press) also allow lawyers to present “interim commentary at appropriate junctures” of the trial, and judges to sum up the evidence at the end of trial.

Judges retain discretion, however, in deciding whether to allow most of the new practices, the Free Press says. Jurors would get both pretrial and postrial instructions, however, under a mandatory rule.

The rules were adopted after a two-year test in 12 courtrooms. They take effect on Sept. 1.

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