Why, during a trial, does the judge periodically send the jurors out of the courtroom while the attorneys and the judge continue without the jury present?
It can be quite annoying for jurors to be periodically marched in and out of the courtroom while they know full well that the attorneys and the judge are discussing critical aspect of the case. In most instances, the jury is temporarily removed from the courtroom because a dispute has arisen about the admissibility of certain evidence at trial.
For a more detailed explanation of why this happens, contact a licensed probate attorney residents can rely on.
There are very detailed rules that apply to the admission of evidence at trial. However, the application of these rules to a particular item of evidence can often be difficult to ascertain. The reason why jury is excused from the courtroom is because, in the event that the judge rules that the information is inadmissible, the jury should not be permitted to hear or view the evidence.
Here are some examples of how this can play out in a trial.
Example – John Smith is on trial for the crime of assault and battery committed in a bar. The prosecution wants the jury to hear the details of three prior assaults committed by Smith. Smith’s defense attorney opposes the admission of this evidence because, in most instances, evidence of ‘prior bad acts’ is not permitted in a trial. The law generally forbids a jury from learning of past misconduct of the person on trial – after all, a person should be on trial for what he has done now, not for what he has done in the past.
However, evidence of past crimes may be admissible if the precise manner and details of the previous crime bear a striking similarity to the new crime. For example, if John Smith’s three prior assaults all involved Smith following a patron into a restroom and assault and robbing him using a belt around the victim’s neck, the judge may decide to permit the jury to hear this testimony.
On the other hand, if the judge rules that the similarities are not close enough, and that the jury should not be permitted to hear this testimony, such a ruling would be meaningless if the jurors were seated in court while the attorneys debated the admissibility of those prior assaults before the judge.
Another reason that jurors are asked to leave the courtroom is because the judge and attorneys are discussing purely procedural issues concerning the timing of witnesses, the handling of exhibits, and the remaining scheduling for the remainder of the trial. It would be pointless, and quite frankly, boring for the jury to have to sit through such discussions.