Friday, August 17, 2007

Do jurors understand "unanimous"?

According to Judge Buchmeyer in his Texas Bar Journal column in May 2007, a jury submitted this question:
Question #5 states:

"If you unanimously answered Question #1 YES, then answer the following question."

Does "unanimously" mean all 12 jurors, or can it mean if we answered Question #1 with a vote of 10 jurors?"
The answer is that it requires all 12.

But I saw the same confusion in mock jurors when we tested our revised Texas Pattern Jury Charges in Dallas County in spring 2005. We must face the fact that not all jurors understand the meaning of unanimous. We must face the fact that when we tell them that on some questions 10 of 12 is enough, they may assume that 10 becomes unanimous.

In my revision, I changed "unanimous" to "all of you" or "all 12."

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