WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Jurors Allowed To Ask Questions

Apr 3, 2012

Jurors in Illinois could soon take a more active role in certain types of cases.

The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a rule that said jurors can ask questions of witnesses in civil trials.

Warren Wolfson, who teaches at the DePaul Law School in Chicago and previously served 34 years as a judge, said he allowed questions in more than two dozen cases, but had little success convincing other judges to give it a try.

Wolfson said jurors are more engaged in the justice system if they're allowed to ask questions.
"The questions are good. If you ever think that jurors don't follow and don't understand what the case is about, all you have to do is take a look at some of the questions, and you'll see that they understand all of it," Wolfson said.

The questions will only be allowed in civil cases over things such as accidents or medical malpractice. Questions from jurors will not be allowed in criminal trials.

Jurors won't get to ask questions directly; they'll be submitted in writing and the judge will decide whether to put the questions to the witness.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio