If you have observed any trial in a courtroom you have probably seen people have trials before a judge, and others have trials before a jury.
A bench trial vs a jury trial, is there a difference or are they the same?
Before going deep into this issue, we want to make sure that you understand that this educational article will only cover the basics, and that it is going to be a good idea if you are thinking about this issue for your own personal case to talk things over with an attorney first.
THE BENCH TRIAL…
In a bench trial there will not be a jury present.
This means that the judge will be the one who will not only decide the factual issues of the case, but the judge will also deal with the legal or issues of law present.
So for example, a factual dispute can arise in a medical malpractice case when a doctor says that the patient never explained to the doctor that he had been having chest pains all morning.
However, the doctor’s own medical notes reveal that he (the doctor) did have a talk with the patient about previous chest pains that morning.
This would be a factual issue that has to be decided.
In other words, do you believe, or give more evidential weight to the doctor’s oral statement or the written note?
As mentioned above, the judge will also take care of any legal issues that are present in the bench trial.
For example, if there is a dispute as to whether an expert is legally qualified to testify, this issue would be something that the judge would decide, because it would be an issue of law.
THE JURY TRIAL & ROLE OF THE JURY…
Just like in a bench trial, where the judge has a role, the jury too has a role in a jury trial.
One of the main roles of a jury is to be the fact finder.
This means that the jury will concern itself primarily with deciding the facts of the case.
For example, if an issue of hearsay arises during a witness’s testimony, the judge is going to decide this issue.
This is because in a jury trial, the judge will decide the technical issues of law as they come up, and ultimately instruct the jury on what law to use during deliberations.
SO HOW DO I KNOW WHICH TO PICK?
The issue of whether to pick a jury trial versus a bench trial is going to ultimately depend on the facts and issues in your case.
This is why we strongly suggested that you talk this over with an attorney before proceeding.
An attorney will be able to listen to your facts and give you the pros and cons of which type of trial to go with.
For example, is your case really about legal issues and not really about a big factual dispute?
These are technical and strategy issues that have to be decided with all of the facts on the table.
TO SPEAK WITH US FURTHER…
If you think that you are the victim of medical malpractice, or you think that your loved one’s death was due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital in Maryland, this is what we invite you to do.
It costs you nothing to take this action.
Pick up the phone and give us a call.
We can be reached at 301-850-4832.
We answer Maryland medical malpractice questions like yours all the time and we would be glad to listen to your story.