Tag: judges
  • The Things Judges Say! Judges’ Comments in Jury Trials

    In Lacey v. Kirk, (COA14-688; Dec. 31, 2014), the Court of Appeals considered whether a judge’s statements in the jury’s presence entitled defendant to a new trial. Defendant took issue with several things the judge said while defendant testified, including instructing her to “tell the truth” when she was evasive; that she had “a problem” if she couldn’t prove a point without hearsay; and to “answer the question first” before explaining. The court held that—considered cumulatively and in context—these comments were an attempt to aid the flow of evidence and were not prejudicial. Also, the judge’s instructions to counsel to move faster and avoid repetition “exhibited a certain degree of impatience” but were “meted out” to both sides and were appropriate to preserve court time. Lacey is a fresh example our courts’ basic analysis of judge statements in front of a jury: Neutrality is paramount, but context and cumulative impact determine whether questionable remarks taint a party’s case.

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