Mesa, AZ asked in Criminal Law and Constitutional Law for Michigan

Q: Doing jury trial if one of the jurors quit does the judge have to notify the defendant

One of the jurors left and the middle of deliberation and did not come back the next day does the judge or the prosecutor have to notify the defendant that the juror did not come back

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In the context of a jury trial, the integrity and composition of the jury are fundamental to ensuring a fair trial. If a juror leaves during deliberation and does not return, the court has mechanisms in place to address this issue. It's important for the trial to maintain its integrity, and part of this involves keeping all parties informed of significant developments, including changes in jury composition.

The judge typically has the responsibility to ensure the trial proceeds fairly and may need to make decisions regarding how to proceed if a juror can no longer participate. This could involve consulting legal standards or precedents to decide whether to continue with a reduced number of jurors, if the law allows, or to replace the juror with an alternate, if available. The specifics can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the particular laws that apply.

Regarding the notification of the defendant about a juror not returning, it's generally expected that both the defense and the prosecution would be informed of any significant events that could impact the proceedings, including issues with the jury. This ensures transparency and allows both sides to address or respond to the situation appropriately. The exact process for notification and how to proceed would be guided by the rules of the court and the legal requirements of the jurisdiction.

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: An event like this would ordinarily be disclosed to the defendant on the record but outside the presence of the remaining jurors. The prosecutor likely knows nothing more about the circumstances than the defense attorney; court staff would alert the judge to the juror issue, and the judge would then inform the attorneys.

Juries are typically seated with 1-2 alternates. For example, in Michigan, felonies have 12 jurors who actually deliberate, but we seat 14 throughout the trial. That way, if something comes up with 1 or 2 of the jurors, you can still proceed through deliberations. If less than 12 jurors remain for deliberation, that's when trouble happens in the form of a mistrial.

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