The trial is now almost over as we have selected a Jury, made opening statements, put witnesses of by direct examination and we have cross-examined the other side’s witnesses, we have made our closing argument, and now it is time for the Judge to instruct the Jury on the law.
Before this happens, we will have had a Jury Instruction Conference with the Judge to give the Judge what we believe the law should be. The defendant will do the same. Sometimes there is a lot of disagreement; at other times there is not much disagreement, but in any event, the Judge will make his or her decision as to what the law is in this case. If there are instructions that we think are wrong that are to be given or that we feel should be given that the Judge refuses to, then we will object to those to preserve that issue for possible appeal.
After we make closing argument the Judge will read the Jury instructions. Some of these are difficult to understand while others (and this is the trend particularly in Jefferson County with the presiding Judge Scott Vowell) will make these instructions in as plain of English as possible. We applaud this trend as we want the Jury to understand what the law is.
After the end of the instructions, we will again object to any instructions which are improper and will object to the refusal to give proper instructions that we have requested.
The Jury will then be sent to the Jury Room to deliberate and this signals the most difficult part of the trial oftentimes for the lawyers and the parties, and that is the waiting part. It could be waiting 2 hours or 2 days for the Jury to make its decision. There is always the thought on both the part of clients and the lawyers about things that could have been done differently or may be that could have been said differently, but ultimately, there has to be a trust that what was done was the best at the time and it is now in the hands of the Jury.
In our next blog post, we will discuss what happens after the Jury has a returned a verdict and what your options are based upon how the verdict came out.