How Do Mistrials Occur in Personal Injury Cases?
August 9, 2021
A successful personal injury case is every plaintiff’s dream; getting justice based on a valid personal injury claim is the best way to get closure. A case may be declared as a mistrial for many reasons, and this can be heart-wrenching for the plaintiff. Although a mistrial is often a rare occurrence, it’s a possibility that you should never overlook, as defense lawyers usually jump on the slightest chance to request for it. It’s always in the plaintiff’s best interest to ensure that they select a reputable injury law attorney, like those at The Ruth Law Team, to get an expert opinion on the way forward in case of an inevitable mistrial.
What is a Mistrial?
A mistrial is a case that has been ended prematurely by a judge on various grounds. A trial judge can call for a mistrial in an ongoing case before the jury passes judgment, or before a judge renders a verdict. Therefore, it cannot be passed after a verdict has been rendered. If the same issue is later restarted, the judge will hear it afresh, and previous witnesses’ accounts will cease to be relevant.
Common Causes of Mistrials in Personal Injury Cases
Several reasons can lead to a mistrial. Let’s delve into some common reasons:
After selection, jurors are given rules they should adhere to within the trial period, depending on the nature of the case. They are given strict instructions not to contact either party involved in the case, not to consider any evidence not tabled within the courtroom, and not to discuss the case outside the court. If it’s proven that they didn’t follow any given instructions, the judge may have grounds to call a mistrial.
Inadmissible Evidence Provided
A trial judge can declare a case as a mistrial if the evidence is considered inadmissible and could cause a sway in the members of the jury’s verdict in a way qualified as unfair to one of the parties. An attorney could also make certain statements when cross-examining witnesses could be classified as having a natural effect on the case and can’t be corrected by an instruction from the judge.
The Jury Cannot Reach A Unanimous Verdict.
Unanimity vote by the members of the jury is required for a guilty or not guilty verdict. Failure to achieve this even after several attempts is referred to as a hung jury, and a judge can pass a mistrial. In some states, such a situation is avoided if state law gives power to the court to pass a verdict if a jury is in a stalemate.
Improper Jury Selection
Jurors are selected by both the prosecution and the defense attorneys based on a total honesty principle. They are not supposed to be privy to the case’s details. If it comes to light and proven that either side didn’t follow the correct process or a juror wasn’t utterly honest in the selection, a judge can declare a mistrial.
Unavailability Of A Key Person
A juror, attorney, or judge may become incapacitated by an illness or other causes or dies during the trial, hence qualifying the case to be an automatic mistrial. Such a scenario has a high likelihood of happening for cases that drag over a long period.
Frequent Improper Representation
For whatever reason, some plaintiffs may choose to represent themselves in a courtroom and may fail several times in adhering to court policies and procedures. They could go on making repeated improper statements even after the judge’s instruction. Under this case, a judge may rule that the indecent representation has happened too often and might jeopardize the jury’s capability to arrive at a verdict, and a mistrial is passed.
Improper Lawsuit Presentation
Various intricate processes are involved in building a lawsuit and ensuring it is presented correctly; a novice attorney may make mistakes and not present the case properly. Depending on the nature of errors, if they are grave so that it brings confusion in interpretation, a trial judge can establish grounds for a mistrial. That is why a plaintiff needs to vouch for an attorney’s competence; they would like to engage in a particular case by carrying out good research on them.
Justice delayed is justice denied; everyone has a right to a fair trial, attorneys always understand the time and money cost of a mistrial and are ever keen on a case’s nitty-gritty to avoid causing it. Choosing an attorney experienced in personal injury trials is always the first best decision.
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