March 30, 2015 • Personal Injury
You have filed a personal injury lawsuit in the state of New York and at the end of the trial the jury has reached a verdict. However, the judge refuses to ask the jury to confirm their verdict, to make sure it is consistent with what they wrote down on the verdict sheet. What will happen if this occurs?
What does polling the jury mean and why is it done?
When each juror is asked individually to confirm the verdict that was returned to the court, it is called polling the jury. Each juror will be asked to render his or her verdict verbally in open court. The defense or plaintiff’s attorney can ask the judge to poll the jury.
This is done, to make sure that what the jury intended to put down on the verdict sheet is consistent with what the entire jury actually wanted to do. There have been instances in New York, where there have been inconsistencies, where the jury actually has been confused by the instructions, and what they put down in the verdict sheet was not correct, compared to what they actually wanted to do.
What happens when it is not done?
If the judge refuses to go ahead and poll the jury, to confirm the verdict put down on the verdict sheet is the same as intended, then it would be considered an error. This means the appellate court, the higher court that reviews this issue, will then send the case back down to trial to have it tried all over again. This is done because the judge failed to take that one final step, which is to confirm the jury’s true verdict and true intent.
What happens when the judge does not poll the jury?
On the other hand, if by some chance, there is any inconsistency between what the jurors wanted to do and what is listed in the jury verdict sheet, the judge can send them back into the jury room, before they disband, before the case is finally over, and ask them to fix whatever inconsistencies have come up. This way, the right and intended verdict will be passed, and there will no longer be any inconsistencies, which the lawyer can object to, and take the case to an appellate court for review.
Polling the jury is a simple step at the end of the trial, which can save the court and everybody involved in the case a lot of time, money, and effort. Lawyers will usually insist that the judge poll the jury, as there has been many instances of the jury being confused about the instructions, and not all jurors may be on board with the verdict listed on the verdict sheet.