General Points of a MA Jury Trial
Prior to the jury trial beginning, the judge in the case will make general remarks to the jury. The judge’s instructions to the jury at the beginning of a jury trial are usually much shorter than the instructions at the end of the trial. The purpose of the judge’s pre-trial instructions is to give a jury an outline of the trial and some things to keep in mind during the trial.
The judge or the clerk will read the complaint prior to the trial starting. While reading the complaint, the judge or the clerk is prohibiting from saying certain things. The judge or the clerk cannot tell the jury the potential sentence the defendant may face is convicted of the charge. The judge or the clerk cannot tell the jury that there are alternative ways of committing the offense. Finally, the judge or the clerk may not tell the jury that the defendant is being charged with a subsequent offense. Most judges will also tell the jury that the complaint is merely a piece of paper and will ask the jury to not consider it as evidence.
The judge will also instruct the jury that the burden is on the prosecutor to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Most judges will add that the defendant is under no obligation to do anything because the defendant is presumed innocent. The court will also tell the jury that they must find the defendant not guilty if the prosecution fails to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge will tell the jury that the lawyers may object during the trial and that the lawyers are only doing their jobs. The judge will also tell the jury that the function of the judge is to rule on questions of law and to ensure that the trial is proceeding in a fairly and efficiently. While the judge will say that the jury has the sole right to determine the facts of the case. The jury must determine what evidence to believe and not to believe. In the end, the jury is to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Each judge has his or her own way of conducting a jury trial. Some judges may say more during the preliminary instructions, while other judges may keep it brief. Either way, once the preliminary instructions are completed, the trial will begin.
Contact Attorney Chan for any questions at 508-808-8902