Arizona is one of just a few states that require the trial judge to submit a jury’s questions to the witness for response. In most jurisdictions, including NY, whether the jury will be permitted to ask questions of a witness, including the defendant in a criminal case, is committed to the discretion of the trial judge. When the jury is permitted to ask questions (in writing and put by the judge), those questions are often quite revealing. We get a peak into the thought processes of the passive and silent group of anonymous peers that will be deciding someone’s fate.
In the Jodi Arias trial, we have another glimpse into what will be the likely fate of this young woman who has been called everything from a sociopath to a “psycho.” The jurors join the reporters and commentators in this case and line up squarely against Ms. Arias. The overwhelming evidence in this case cannot be explained away and many of the jurors’ questions reveal a disbelief in and disgust for Ms. Arias’.
When a jury has so many questions and there are so many clues that it is headed in a direction that will not be favorable to your client, the attorney usually has an opportunity to conduct some damage control. If it is a civil case, aggressive settlement negotiations should be undertaken. In a criminal case, an aggressive effort on the part of the defense to plea bargain to a non-death penalty sentence should be launched immediately.