Notetaking by Jurors

As trials have become more complex, and the information given more difficult to remember and place in perspective, a number of states have made express permission for jurors to take notes during the trial. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Although only one state expressly prohibits this practice, in most jurisdictions whether members of a jury are allowed to take notes will depend upon the discretion of the judge. One survey indicated that 37 percent of the judges in state courts indicate they do not allow jurors to take notes during a trial. In federal courts, this matter is also left up to the judge.

Many judges oppose juror notetaking because in their view jurors cannot make the distinction between important and trivial evidence. As a result, the more vital evidence may not be recorded and the less important may be, making it impossible for a jury to reach a rational verdict. However, studies performed in Wisconsin and Arizona indicate that notetaking did not influenced the verdict, or distract the jurors; notes taken were accurate and did not result in the notetakers dominating non-notetakers in the jury deliberations.

Inside Notetaking by Jurors