“Polling the jury” is a procedure which, if it occurs, takes place after a jury has rendered its verdict. An attorney for one of the parties may inquire of each of the jurors, in turn, whether they personally agree with the panel verdict. Occasionally, wilting under the steely-eyed glare of an indignant lawyer, a juror will recant, resulting in the jury being ordered back for further deliberations, or possibly a mistrial.
Last week in Whidbey, Washington, a woman was on trial for vehicular assault. After deliberating, the jury returned a verdict of “Not Guilty.” Apparently not satisfied with this verdict, the defendant’s attorney polled the jury. The first juror polled said she did not agree with the verdict, whereupon the judge ordered the jury to resume deliberations. After some time, the jury returned with a new verdict. This time, the jury found the defendant “Guilty.” Her lawyer did not again poll the jury.
THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED: (1) Once you have gotten what you wanted, say no more; and (2) some lawyers are more – or less – skilled than others; check this out before retaining one to represent you.