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1.19 Questions to Witnesses by Jurors

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1.19 Questions to Witnesses by Jurors

Option 1

            Only the lawyers and I are allowed to ask questions of witnesses. A juror is not permitted to ask questions of witnesses. [Specific reasons for not allowing jurors to ask questions may be explained.] If, however, you are unable to hear a witness or a lawyer, please raise your hand and I will correct the situation.

Option 2

            When attorneys have finished their examination of a witness, you may ask questions of the witness. [Describe procedure to be used.] If the rules of evidence do not permit a particular question, I will advise you. After your questions, if any, the attorneys may ask additional questions.


            There may be occasions when a juror desires to ask a question of a witness, and the court has discretion in permitting or refusing to permit jurors to do so. See United States v. Huebner, 48 F.3d 376, 382 (9th Cir. 1994) ("Huebner does not point out prejudice resulting from any of the few questions [jurors] asked. There was no error or abuse of discretion"); United States v. Gonzales, 424 F.2d 1055, 1056 (9th Cir. 1970) (holding there was no error by trial judge in allowing juror to submit question to court); Jury Instructions Committee of the Ninth Circuit, A Manual on Jury Trial Procedures § 3.5 (2013) (providing practical suggestions).

            Option 1 is for judges who want to disallow jury questions explicitly. Option 2 is for judges who want to tell jurors explicitly that they may submit questions to be asked of witnesses. 

Revised Oct. 2019