“In a proper case there may be a real benefit from allowing jurors to submit questions under proper control by the court. However, in order to permit the court to exercise its discretion and maintain control of the trial, the correct procedure is to have the juror write the questions for consideration by the court and counsel prior to their submission to the witness.” (People v. McAlister (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 633, 644 citing People v. Gates (1979) 97 Cal. App. 3d Supp. 10)
“[T]he judge has discretion to ask questions submitted by jurors or to pass those questions on and leave to the discretion of counsel whether to ask the questions.” (People v. Cummings (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1233, 1305.)
Whether the practice of direct questioning of witnesses by jurors is approved or criticized by the particular court, there is general agreement that the irregular proceeding must result in actual prejudice before an appellate court is justified in disturbing the judgment. (McAlister, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at 645.)
“The appellant urges that when jurymen ask improper questions the defendant is placed in the delicate dilemma of either allowing such question to go in without objection or of offending the jurors by making the objection and the appellant insists that the court of its own motion should check the putting of such improper questions by the jurymen, and thus relieve the party injuriously affected thereby from the odium which might result from making that objection thereto. There is no force in this contention. Objections to questions, whether asked by a juror or by opposing counsel, are presented to the court, and its ruling thereon could not reasonably affect the rights or standing of the party making the objection before the jury in the one case more than in the other.” (Maris v. H. Crummey, Inc. (1921) 55 Cal.App. 573, 578–579.)
“[A]t least in a criminal case it is unnecessary for counsel to make an objection to the improper nature of the questions propounded by a juror in order to preserve the right to raise the error on appeal.” (McAlister, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at 644.) “We agree with the courts from other jurisdictions that have held that the risk of prejudice is too great to require counsel to be put to the choice of offending a juror by an objection or of letting improper or prejudicial testimony go in without the right to later review.” (Id.; see State v. Sickles (1926) 220 Mo.App. 290; Krause v. State (1942) 75 Okla.Crim. 381.)
The rationale of these cases is that a juror is not selected for the purpose of asking questions and is not expected to take the place of counsel in the trial of the case. (McAlister, supra, 167 Cal.App.3d at 644.) Therefore, when the court permits a juror to propound questions to a witness, the juror, to some extent at least, represents the court. (Id.) It is therefore the duty of the court to see to it, without objection being made, that no improper questions are asked of a witness by a juror. (Id., citing Sparks v. Daniels (Mo.App. 1961) 343 S.W.2d 661, 667.)
The following is a copy of the tentative ruling for the hearing on June 8, 2017. Although the court is issuing a tentative ruling the court is still requiring that counsel attend the hearing to at least discuss scheduling. Telephone appearances are allowed. NOTICE: Parties requesting services of a court reporter shall advise the Court at (916) 874-7885 no later than 4:00 p.m. the court day befor...
..ion for new trial is DENIED. Facts This case arises from Plaintiff's allegations that his employer, defendant California Department of Transportation ("Defendant" or "CalTrans"), violated various provisions of the Government Code including the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA") and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). A jury was empanelled on December 13, 2016 and trial began...
Jun 07, 2017
Sacramento County, CA
Plaintiff’s Motion for New Trial. On August 9, 2017 the jury returned a verdict finding that while plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract, defendant did not fail to do something required by contract and plaintiff was not harmed by a breach of contract. The jury also returned a special verdict finding that defendants were not negligent. The judgment on verdict in open court was entered on...
..ling, he fills it; there was juror misconduct in that a juror stated facts outside the record of the trial that the juror would not call anyone and just do it (fill the hole); there was juror misconduct resulting in an irregularity in that the jury disregarded a material jury instruction that if the contract was ambiguous, the jury must find against the HOA; the jury foreman’s failure to read the...
Sep 28, 2017
El Dorado County, CA
TENTATIVE RULING: Cross-defendant's Motion for New Trial Cross-defendant's motion for new trial is denied. A motion for new trial is entirely statutory. It can be granted only on one of the seven grounds set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 657. In its notice of motion, cross-defendant sets forth five statutory grounds: (1) Irregularity in the proceedings (Code Civ. Proc. § 657(1). (2)...
..irregularity in proceedings (657(1) or error in law (657(7). A ruling on the merits of a motion for new trial, begins with the basic premise of Article VI section 13 of the Constitution. No judgment shall be set aside, or new trial granted unless, after an examination of the entire cause, including the evidence, the Court shall be of the opinion that the error complained of has resulted in a mis...
Nov 26, 2014
Sacramento County, CA
1-2 of 2 results
Plaintiff objects (pursuant to Evidence Code section 1150) to the affidavits submitted by jurors John Bausch and Garrett Fahrmann in support of the opposition. Generally, juror affidavits are more commonly used where a new trial is sought on the ground of “irregularity” in the proceedings or jury misconduct. (Wegner, supra, at ¶ 18:275.)
Sep 11, 2018
San Luis Obispo County, CA
Defendant City of Irvine objections to the declarations submitted by Jurors Shannon Jestin and Gustavo Beltran and Plaintiffs' counsel Torsten M. Bassell, Esq. in support of Plaintiffs' motion for new trial are each overruled.
Apr 07, 2017
Orange County, CA
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