Should jurors be allowed to take notes?
I'll lay out a few thoughts and let me know what you think in return -- my first poll is --->
Yes to note-taking:
- do we really expect jurors to remember everything witnesses say? A whole week of testimony and they just have to sit there and memorize it?
- what a great way for a juror to summarize or note the most important details from each witness
- writing something down helps you remember it. Which is a good thing.
- don't we want jurors looking at and evaluating witnesses, listening to them rather than scribbling down every word?
- what happens when two jurors write down opposite "facts"? Hung jury?
- instead of deliberation, does the jury room discussion become a test of who took the best notes? If so, we end up with 12 people relying on one person's transcription of testimony, rather than 12 people's independent memory and evaluation of that testimony
- it may not be obvious at the time what the most salient points are, so why waste time writing down irrelevant stuff?
"During the trial of the case, the jurors should be permitted to make notes and keep these notes with them when they retire for their deliberations.
(a) The notes should be used by the juror solely for the juror's purposes during the jury deliberations, and should be made available to other jurors solely at the discretion of the juror taking the notes. No person, other than the juror taking the notes, should have the right to view the notes.
(b) The jurors should be informed at the beginning of the trial that, at the close of the deliberations, all jurors' notes will be collected by the court and destroyed."Our Judge tends to allow it in trials that are longer or more complicated, but not in the shorter and less complex ones. The murder trial we recently completed, for example, was only three days long but we had over 20 witnesses, and the judge allowed jurors to take notes. Shame I forgot to ask them if it helped!
It does seem the move is towards note-taking - are there any really good reasons against it?