Criminal Attorney Oklahoma Defense Lawyer Adam R. Banner OKLAHOMA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AT LAW

The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Dallas Cowboys Jourdan Lewis Not Guily

Adam Banner - Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well, that didn't take too long. Most people think of a long, drawn-out affair when they hear the term "jury trial" -- and this notion is most likely based on their only exposure to the situation being a result of television and pop culture. 

However, the case of Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis shows that is not usually the case. Mr. Lewis was charged with domestic assault and battery, and his jury trial took all of two days. Throw in the fact that a large portion of that time frame was devoted to actually picking the jury, and its easy to see how many people could be confused as to why such a serious situation could be decided in such a short amount of time.

First and foremost, the length of a jury trial can depend on many different factors. One issue is whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. In Oklahoma, there are only six jurors on a misdemeanor jury, but there are twelve jurors in a felony trial. As such, it can take twice as long to pick a jury and voir dire all of the panel depending on the criminal allegation. This aspect is also important when dealing with different types of crimes. It may take much longer to pick a suitable jury in a sex crimes case than it might in a petty larceny one.

Another more obvious factor is the amount of evidence that is involved in the prosecution and defense. The prosecution bears the burden of proving a criminal allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, so it will usually present more evidence than the defense. I normally take the position that I would rather put on less evidence in defense as opposed to more: my client has nothing to prove at a jury trial, so evidence will normally only be offered if there is something in the prosecution's case that needs to be explained in more detail.

One piece of evidence that is sometimes presented by the defense is the testimony of the defendant him or herself. Defendants don't testify in every jury trial. Really, it is up to the defendant as to whether or not he or she wishes to testify. No one can make a defendant testify, and no one can stop a defendant from testifying (outside of very rare circumstances in which the defendant is removed from proceedings due to specific circumstances). 

Jourdan Lewis did not testify at his jury trial, and it worked out well for his defense. There is no set of rules or guidelines for when a criminal defendant should or should not testify. I have had clients that I begged to testify in hopes of filling in some questions I assumed the jury would have, but the clients decided against it. It is the client's choice. I have had clients that I begged not to testify because their testimony added nothing to their defense and only opened them up to cross-examination, but the clients decided to anyway. It is the client's choice.

If you ever find yourself on a jury for a criminal case, don't assume anything due to the amount of time the trial takes or from the fact that the defendant does or does not testify. There are multiple factors at play for each consideration.

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