New York City Personal Injury Law Blog

Can a Judge Express his Opinions in a Personal Injury Trial

Posted on May 18, 2015 in Legal Terminology, Personal Injury

In a car accident case in New York that goes to trial, will the judge ever give the jury his opinion or belief, about who is entitled to compensation, and if so, how much?

The Judge can never Express His Opinion

Judge

A judge is not entitled to express his personal opinions during a trial.

The short answer is no, the judge will never inform the jury what he believes someone is entitled to. Why is that? It is because the judge has nothing to do with deciding who more likely right than wrong is. That is the entire purpose of what the jury is going to do. The jury is there to decide who is more likely right than wrong. Is it the injured victim, or the person who is being sued? It is the function of the jury, as they not only decide whether the victim is right, but they also determine how much compensation is to be given to the victim if he is found to be right.

The judge is never supposed to tell the jury whom he believes is entitled to a verdict, and if the injured victim is entitled to a verdict – how much compensation he should be receiving.

Instead, the lawyer of the injured victim will have the opportunity during the closing remarks to suggest to the jury, the amount of compensation that should be given to the victim for the harms and losses he has suffered because of somebody else’s carelessness. Based on this reasoning, the plaintiff’s attorney will make the suggestion to the jury at the end of the case. But the judge will never speak to the jury on who is entitled to a verdict, and if so how much compensation should be awarded to the injured victim.

This is not their role in this process at all.

Judge is in a Supervisory Position

Some people want to know if the trial judge, who is supervising the case, ever tells the jury, how much compensation is to be awarded. They want to know if the judge offers some guidance to the jury on this behalf or tries to influence in the case in this manner.

Well, the judge is there only in a supervisory position, and does not take part in deliberations, or in influencing the verdict in any way. If fact that is the whole point of flipping the switch for a jury trial, so that the judge is in no way involved in passing the verdict or deciding how much compensation should be given to the victim, if any. If the judge were to express his opinion or influence the verdict in any way, there is no point in having a jury.

Almost all attorneys prefer a jury trial because they feel a judge who presides over many personal injury cases will be jaded and such a person will not have a fresh perspective over the case. In all likelihood, such a person will therefore not provide adequate compensation or he may even feel the victim is not entitled to any compensation though the jury can rule the same way. This is unlikely though since juries have a tendency to offer more money to victim’s than judges.

A Neutral Factor

So when attorneys press the button for a jury trial, the jury is expected to handle this final decision and not the judge. The role of the judge in a personal injury trial will be mainly supervisory, and he will explain to the jury the laws regarding the particular case. However, the judge will never step in the way of the jury on regards to whom they should favor, what verdict they should pass, and how much compensation to award, if any.

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