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What happens when the Jury is Deadlocked

In medical malpractice case, it is possible that the jury is unable to reach a decision or is deadlocked. In such instances, the defense lawyer will most probably want the judge to declare a mistrial, whereas the plaintiff's lawyer will want the jury to go back and continue deliberating until they reach a verdict. In any civil case in New York, when the jury deliberates, it needs five jurors out of the six, to agree on any one of the issues, in order to reach a verdict.

Nothing Works

However, what happens when the jury is unable to reach a verdict even after ongoing deliberations? In such instances, the judge will call the jury back into the courtroom, and will give them additional instructions and a pep talk. The judge will ask the jury to go back, deliberate again, and try to reach a verdict. The jury might go back and start deliberating again, but after hours of deliberation they might still be deadlocked, which means five out of the six jurors are unable to come to a common agreement.

The Jury is Unable to Reach a Decision after Repeated Deliberations

In such instances, the judge will call both the attorneys, and will want to know their views about the matter. The defense attorney will usually ask the judge to declare a mistrial, but the plaintiff's lawyer would want the judge declaring a mistrial only if he feels there is something highly prejudicial that is going to affect his client and the possible outcome. The plaintiff's lawyer will most probably request the judge to talk to the jury again, and encourage them to continue to deliberate.

Avoiding a Mistrial

The judge will most probably go along with the view of the plaintiff's lawyer, because the judge will want to avoid a mistrial. A mistrial would mean that the entire trial was a total waste. Whatever the duration of the trial, whether it went on for few days, weeks, or months, whatever has gone on during the entire length of that trial will be thrown out of the window. All the money and resources that both sides, as well as the court have put in for trying the case will be for nothing. If a mistrial is declared, the entire case will have to be tried again after some time, maybe a few days or weeks later, in order to get an actual verdict.

Therefore, the judge will try several times and encourage the jury to come to a decision. However, even after many attempts at deliberation, the jury is still deadlocked or is unable to reach a verdict; the judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial. The judge will then discharge the jury, and the two attorneys will now have to pick a new jury for another trial.

A Sad Ending

This means the whole process will start all over again. When there is a mistrial, it could prove expensive for everybody, especially in a medical malpractice case. All the expert witnesses will have to be called again, and the whole case will be fought anew. Therefore, as far as possible, the judge will try to avoid declaring a mistrial.

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