September 01, 2016

Sua Sponte: A Judge Comments

A judge who has used time limits suggests that juries benefit from their use.

Hon. James S. Gwin

For nearly 20 years, I have given time limits in almost every civil trial. Reasonable limits, with flexibility for unanticipated time problems, work wonderfully.

When presenting a case to a jury, attorneys face the obvious questions: Is the jury listening? If so, what is getting through? Having received instructions to keep their minds open, jurors appropriately sit stone-faced, giving no indication of what they are thinking or even that they are thinking at all. Understandably, trial attorneys fear the need to repeat themselves to make sure their evidence and arguments are getting through.

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