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View Diary: Morning Feature: To free the innocent (with poll and matching gift) (90 comments)

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  •  That's a very difficult question. (7+ / 0-)

    In theory, the judge can intervene sua sponte if he/she sees a clear injustice.  In practices, judges are loathe to do so because that can give an impression of partiality.  It happens more often in bench trials or other proceedings where there's no jury.  But if the jury is in the courtroom the judge's commitment to impartiality weighs against intervening unless it's a manifest injustice.

    That said, I've seen judges do that in subtle ways, e.g.: "This would be a good time for a break, so we can all get some coffee."

    Translation: "I'd appreciate it if counsel - and the jury - would wake up and look interested, since this is a criminal trial and that's kind of important to some of us, including the defendant, the victim, and society as a whole...."

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