Earlier this year, the Michigan Supreme Court approved new Michigan jury trial rules to take effect September 1st. The new jury rules will affect both civil and criminal trials. Despite widespread changes, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that many local lawyers don’t believe the new jury rules will impact the way Jackson County courts or other Michigan trial courts operate.
If you a facing a Michigan criminal trial anywhere in the state of Michigan, it is important to contact an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the criminal court system and understands the new rules and how they may affect your case.
If you have been accused of a crime, the constitution provides you many fundamental rights. Among those rights include the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to due process of the law and right to trial by a jury of your peers. The purpose of the new rules are to enhance the jury process with the hopes that by engaging jurors more in the trial process, they will achieve a more informed decision. The new rules will impact all Michigan county criminal courts including those in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Saginaw County and Washtenaw County.
As stated by one observer, “the Supreme Court is trying to …rationalized the jury experience so juries don’t feel so much like they are sitting there watching a TV program…And if the are more involved in the case, they are more likely to come to a rational decision.”
The Michigan Supreme Court tested the reforms in 12 courts across the state and report that jurors support the changes. Some Michigan criminal defense lawyers are skeptical about the rules, concerned that overzealous or biased judges will not implement the new rules in a fair and balanced way. An aggressive Michigan criminal trial attorney can fight to protect your right to an impartial trial as the new reforms take effect.
Some of the changes include:
• Providing jurors with pretrial instructions at the beginning of a trial in order to help them evaluate the case;
• Allowing Michigan criminal lawyers to provide jurors with a notebook or document containing witness lists, statutes or other relevant information to help them evaluate the case;
• Having judges schedule experts in a way to help them understand the issues;
• Providing an opportunity for lawyers to make statements at certain points in the trial summarizing the evidence;
• Having attorneys prepare summaries of depositions for the jury instead of having entire depositions read aloud;
• Letting juror take and use notes during deliberations;
• Allowing jurors to take reference materials including exhibits, notebook and documents into the jury room;
• Arranging for jurors to see places where critical events have occurred;
• Allowing the jurors to list issues that confuse them or are divisive and present them to the judge for assistance.
Hopefully these new rules will provide a way to improve on jury participation in Michigan criminal trials and provide criminal defendants in all types of crimes including drug crimes, property crimes and violent crimes such as murder and homicide a more fair and just result.
For more information or if you are facing charges on any Michigan criminal offense, contact the aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates so we can immediately begin preparing your defense.