§ 26.06 Jury Views

JurisdictionNorth Carolina
§ 26.06 Jury Views

Jury views are a well-established trial procedure—e.g., taking the jury to the scene of a crime or accident.47 In some jurisdictions, a jury view is not considered evidence because it cannot be recorded.48 This makes little sense; the only reason to take the jury to the scene is for the jurors to use what they observe in deciding the case.49 Moreover, "demeanor" evidence (observing a witness in determining credibility) is also not recorded but is always recognized as admissible.50 In addition, views can now be recorded on videoptape.51

The trial court has discretion to permit a jury view.52 In exercising this discretion, the judge should consider "(1) the view's importance to the issue at question; (2) the extent to which information from the view could be obtained from other sources; and (3) the extent to which the object or place to be viewed has changed since the controversy arose. A fourth related consideration within the court's discretion is the timing of the view."53 Views are time-consuming and difficult to control so that unauthorized comments, hearsay, or other occurrences do not infect the process during such a visit.54"With respect to taking a jury for a view, the disruption and confusion likely to result closely resembles that associated with taking a third grade class to a firehouse."55 In a criminal case, the accused has the right to be present at the view.56


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Notes:

[47] See Fed. R. Evid. 401 advisory committee's note ("Evidence which is essentially background in nature is universally offered and admitted as an aid to understanding. Charts, photographs, views of real estate, murder weapons, and many other items of evidence fall in this category.").

[48] See Crowe v. State, 458 S.E.2d 799, 808-09 (Ga. 1995) ("trial court properly instructed the jury that the view was not evidence").

[49] See United States v. Lillie, 953 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1992) ("We acknowledge that jurisdictions vary as to whether a view is treated as evidence or simply as an aid to help the trier of fact understand the evidence. However, we believe such a distinction is only semantic, because any kind of presentation to the jury or the judge to help the fact finder determine what the truth is and assimilate and understand the evidence is itself evidence.'"); State v. Pauline, 60 P.3d 306, 322 (Haw. 2002) ("[A]n examination of the two primary reasons cited for not considering a view as evidence—(1) the need for evidence to be given in the...

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