What if the Jury Gets it Wrong?
The American legal system is superior to that of many other countries. Originating in ancient Greece and Rome, a trial by a jury of one’s peers checks the power of dictators and government-approved authorities. However, there are flaws in the system, and more frequently than you may think, the jury is incorrect.
According to a report on NPR, as of a few years ago, 300 persons who had been falsely convicted and sent to jail in the United States have been exonerated thanks to fresh DNA evidence. There have been 1,761 criminal exonerations since 1989, according to researchers at the National Registry of Exonerations, an initiative of the University of Michigan Law School created in 2012.
Each juror brings their ideas, views, experiences, prejudices, fears and motivations to the jury table. This implies that every prospective juror has predetermined notions about the case or its parties.
For instance, jurors may hold biases based on ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other issues. When they apply these prejudices (even unknowingly) toward the defendant, plaintiff, counsel, judge, other jurors, or victims, it hinders their ability to give a judgment based purely on the facts provided.
A juror’s impartiality might also be affected by their prior knowledge of the incident or crime. A jury unaware of the occurrence before the trial is preferable. Without previous knowledge of the occurrence, the jury does not have a predetermined judgment and utilizes only the official evidence to reach a verdict. This was relatively simple for generations, except for the most recognized incidents.
However, as media coverage of events became more frequent and comprehensive, locating jurors with no previous case knowledge became practically hard.
Recent research indicates that social media may significantly affect a juror’s ability to reach an unbiased judgment. Social media gives jurors access to incredible viewpoints regarding the incident and enables them to readily debate the issue outside the courtroom instead of restricting their communication to the deliberation area.
What Can You Do If a Jury Has Wrongfully Convicted You?
Fortunately, the U.S. judicial system provides relief for wrongfully convicted people. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may have the following legal alternatives after a jury’s unjust conviction:
- Motion for judgment, regardless of the verdict
- Objection to the verdict and retrial request
- Jury vote tally (asking each juror separately to confirm the verdict rendered by the jury)
- Request for remittitur (motion to reduce or throw out a jury verdict)
Before papers are filed with the court of appeals, your attorney may use a variety of legal instruments to begin testing and contesting the conviction if a jury unfairly convicted you. Utilizing all available procedural mechanisms promptly after an erroneous judgment has been issued will open up potential relief paths and extend your appeal possibilities.
When are Jury Verdicts Susceptible to Challenge or Overturn?
There are instances in which the final verdict of a jury in a personal injury trial might be questioned and even reversed. These occurrences are uncommon but do occur. They revolve around how the jury arrived at its verdict or whether it makes logical sense.
A compromise jury or judgment is an example of such a circumstance. Although compromise and “give and take” are excellent business and other real-world practices, they are not permitted with jurors. Jurors should not negotiate to get a verdict. Jurors are tasked with making choices based on what they feel the evidence presented at trial demonstrated, not by negotiating with other jurors.
Consistent with compromise judgments are inconsistent judgments. Inconsistent judgments lack logical coherence. Frequently, they are the result of a compromise.
A jury may, for instance, find a nursing facility liable for resident injuries yet award no damages. Or, where injuries are severe, a jury may find that a person who has been wounded is awarded no compensation for pain and suffering or future medical bills.
These judgments are inconsistent with logic. A jury may acquit a defendant if it so wishes. In most circumstances, however, a jury cannot find defendants accountable without ordering them to compensate an injured plaintiff.
Sometimes conflicting verdicts result from jurors’ inability to comprehend the jury instructions. Sometimes, they result from jurors deliberately disregarding jury instructions, incorrectly assuming that it is okay to do so, provided they all agree to adopt other rules. Occasionally, they are contradictory because the jury made a concession.
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Frequently, these rulings are legally insufficient. When a jury finds a defendant liable but does not award damages for future medical expenditures or past or future pain and suffering, a victim may claim that the judgment is insufficient and contradictory.
Similarly, a jury may be united and fully in accord, reaching a judgment solely on the facts and without discussion or compromise, yet nonetheless, award a sum that is illogical or inconsistent with the supplied evidence.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.