Court rules jurors may question witnesses

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The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that jurors can submit questions to witnesses in a criminal trial. The decision stemmed from a 2000 trial in which the defendant, a tow-truck driver, was found guilty of bribing a police officer. Jurors in the trial were allowed to ask questions of witnesses through the judge.

The defendant appealed the verdict, arguing that the jury’s questioning deprived him of a fair trial. The Supreme Court overturned that appeal, saying that the jury’s questioning of a witness could not have contributed to the defendant’s conviction.

The judges also wrote that jury questioning is considered common practice in other states.

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