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Mistrial Questions

What is a mistrial?

Mistrials occur when a procedural error occurs that corrupts the process of fair and impartial conclusion by the jury. Generally, a mistrial will occur if the judge feels that the trial has been affected by extreme prejudice that could ultimately affect the outcome of the trial. In the event that this happens, a judge will call a mistrial and the case will be re-tried. To learn more about mistrials, take a look at the questions below that have been answered by experts.

What are the basis of a mistrial in a law suit? If the defense lawyer messes with the witness's files, would this be reason enough for a mistrial? Is a lawyer entering the restroom with the juror's basis? The defense attorney made up diagnostics test and dates that didn't exist to confuse or make the jurors judgment favor them.

Generally, a mistrial happens when something occurs that cannot be expected to be overlooked by the jury. The examples that you have given are all grounds for a mistrial. However, first the court would determine if these things have had an impact on the jury and if they have damages the case. The judge will have the final say in these decisions and he/she will determine if any harm has come to the trial due to the actions. If the judge finds that something has been so prejudicial that it cannot be cured, then he will call a mistrial. Usually, in situations like this, the judge would ask the jurors if the attorney confronted them in the restroom or spoke about the case. The reason for this is to determine if anything happened that would change the juror's views on the case.

Do the mistrial laws apply to all areas of law?

Generally, mistrials happen in criminal matters but may be used in a civil matter if something occurs in front of the jury that may cause prejudice toward one of the parties in the case. The mistrial is called in order to avoid any prejudice from corrupting the outcome of a trail. In judge trials, mistrials generally are not used because the judge is fully aware that any prejudice is to be left out of his/her decision.

As a Jurist on a local Capital Offense trial, a Mistrial was declared after two days of testimony with me being named as the person responsible. A bailiff discovered a notepad I had left in the jurist room. The judge made it quite clear I would be charged with contempt for taking notes in the courtroom into the jury room before deliberation. I took no notes what so ever in the courtroom, just scribbled a few key words when I returned. What is my exposure?

Many judges prefer that the jurors didn't take notes during a trial. Some judges are very firm in this decision. The judges would rather a juror rely on their mental take of the testimony and evidence during a trial rather than writing the thoughts on paper.

As far as any liability on your part, this will be up to the judge. What you did isn't considered a criminal offense, but rather a subjective call by the judge. You could use the argument that you were unaware that taking the notes was not allowed and by the bailiff not stopping you affirmed this. It may be that the judge was just expressing his dislike for notes. Generally, judges would prefer not to call a mistrial over something of this nature. Usually, a juror would have to do something extremely wrong for a judge to find them in contempt. For example, if a juror spoke with members of the trial outside of the courtroom. Based on what you have said, it is unlikely the judge would push for a contempt charge over taking notes.

Can you tell me what determines if a case can be retried or not and what exactly the mistrial means and what happens afterwards?

A mistrial is usually called in the event that a procedural defect occured during the trial which affected the verdict. Generally, a hung jury is the cause of a mistrial. A hung jury is when neither side can receive enough juror votes to make a firm verdict.

A mistrial can have different legal implications depending on the nature of the mistrial, the particulars of the case and more. When faced with a possible mistrial, being informed of the law as it applies in your case would be the first step in taking an informed decision. If you have questions or concerns regarding a mistrial, you should ask an Expert.
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