Physician’s Malpractice Results in Child’s Brain Damage, Part 2 of 9

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

Interestingly, there is little decisional law on the question of what is proper discussion among jurors during deliberations, and the few cases are quite ancient. In Baker v. Borello, (1902) 136 Cal. 160, the California Supreme Court approved an instruction which told the jurors to deliberate in light of their general knowledge on the subject. Jurors, in weighing evidence, always exercise their judgment in the light of their own general knowledge of the subject in hand, whether instructed to do so or not; and a judgment will not be reversed whether they are or are not so instructed. Wagner v. Doulton, (1980) 112 Cal. App. 3d 945, 949 [169 Cal. Rptr. 550].

The court in Wagner concluded: We believe the appropriate rule has been well articulated by an opinion of a sister state: In determining what is proper and what is improper discussion among jurors, regard must be had for the fact that the jury are supposedly men (and women] of different walks of life, avocations, and necessarily views that would be affected by their past experiences and situations. They could hardly arrive at a solution of their differences without discussion of the facts before them, and each man’s discussion would necessarily be tinged or affected by his own viewpoint and experience. Frazer v. State, (1924) 99 Tex. Grim. 89, (112 Cal. App. 3d at p. 950.); English v. Linn, (1994) 26 Cal. 4th 1358, 1364

Jury deliberations are secret while they are occurring. No verbatim transcript or other record of the deliberations normally exists. Declarations seeking to reconstruct deliberations after the fact may be colored by the jurors’ natural inclination to protect or attack the process that resulted in the verdict depending on whether the juror agreed or disagreed with the verdict. (See Weathers v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, (1971) 5 Cal. 3d 98, 108-109, [95 Cal. Rptr. 516 485, P.2d 1132].) Yet, the parties’ right to a jury trial is one of constitutional dimension, and we give great deference to a verdict issued by a properly instructed jury – in the normal case, without any inquiry whatsoever into the processes used to reach that verdict. Even when there are allegations of jury misconduct evidence of the jurors’ mental processes is, with narrow exceptions, excluded from consideration of the right to a new trial. (In re Hamilton, supra, 20 Cal. 4th at pp. 294-295.)

Common experience requires that we recognize that while the jury system is… legally fundamental… [it is] also fundamentally human. (People v. Marshall (1990) 50 Cal. 3d 907, 950, [269 Cal. Rptr. 269, 790 P.2d 676],) Jurors bring to their deliberations knowledge, beliefs, personalities, and intellectual capacities, which the judicial system must accept as both a strength and a weakness of the jury system. (Ibid.; See also People v. Keenan, (1988) 46 Cal. 3d 478, 541, [250 Cal. Rptr. 550, 758 P.2d 1081].) (See Part 3 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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