The Power of the Jury
This is Stuart Ericson, Wagoner Lawyer. We’re talking about jury trials, and we just finished talking about at the conclusion of all the evidence, you know, the jury instructions are done. Now, in jury trials, there’s a strong distinction as to who does what in jury trials.
So, the state of Oklahoma, the prosecutor presents evidence. They make argument for guilt. The defense attorney protects the defendant, cross-examines, presents evidence, and zealously advocates for the defense.
Now, when it comes to the law, the judge is the ruler of that. The judge makes the rulings on objections during the trial. That’s a legal thing. At the conclusion of all the evidence, the judge produces the jury instructions and reads them to the jury. That is the law. That’s just what the jury is supposed to follow, the law.
What Role Does the Jury Play?
Now, when it comes to the facts and what to believe, that is not the judge. The judge doesn’t determine what the facts are. The judge doesn’t determine who’s telling the truth, who’s not telling the truth. That is the jury’s decision. The jury watches every, you know, watches all the witnesses, and the jury decides whether to believe some or part of any witness’s testimony.
A jury could go, I don’t think that person was telling the truth at all. I’m going to disregard it. And it could be the state’s star witness, right? And I’ve seen cases where the defense puts up an alibi witness. Maybe it’s a mother or a girlfriend, and the jury’s going, you know, they’re probably covering for the defendant and would say anything to protect them. We’re not going to believe them. So that is the jurors call. The jurors determine what the facts are, and then they plug it into the law.
How Does the Jury Reach a Verdict?
If they plug the facts into the law and say, there’s no way a crime was committed here, not guilty, then yeah, you won. If the jury plugs what they believe the facts are and it fits the elements of the crime, they’ll probably find guilty. So that’s kind of the distinction between, some people think the judges are much more powerful than they are.
Now, of course, they do have the power in the final jury instructions and ruling on objections, true. But when it ultimately comes as to which witnesses to believe, which witnesses not to believe, then that’s for the jury, and they have the power for that. And of course, the jury decides guilt or not guilt, not the judge.
Contact Us for More Information
If you have any questions about a jury trial, reach out to me, Oklahoma criminal defense attorney Stuart Ericson at wagonerlawyer.com.