Trials usually involve a lot of information, including instructions from the judge, a description of the case by the attorneys, the presentation of evidence and testimony from witnesses. Taking good notes is one way to remember the facts given when deliberating to reach a verdict.
Prepare to Take Notes
Find out whether you will be allowed to take notes during the trial. This is not always allowed and the rules vary by court and type of trial. If you will be allowed to take notes in the trial to which you are assigned, the judge will arrange for writing material for each jury member who needs them.
Find out whether you will be allowed to take notes throughout the trial. If parts of the trial are off limits, the judge will inform the jury.
Label each page according to the sections of the case. List the evidence presented and the witnesses presented according to the relevant sections of the trial.
Draw a line down a page to divide it into two. Use one side to record comments made by the prosecuting attorney and the other side to record those made by the defense.
Record the instructions given by the judge.
Do not let the task of taking notes overwhelm you or stop you from listening to the trial. Record as much of the facts as you can but avoid trying to write everything down.
Use Your Notes Wisely
Do not rely solely on your notes. Although they may be good notes, it is best to rely on your recollections instead and use your notes only as reference.
Refer to the recorded transcript of a testimony for clarification. If you are having difficulty recollecting parts of the case or understanding your notes, you can ask that the recorded transcript be read back to you. You can also ask to see the exhibits in the jury room.
Ask for clarification of aspects of the case if you later find that your notes are not good enough. It is especially important that you have a good understanding of the judge's instructions. If this is not clear in your notes, you may ask for the judge to explain the requirements again.
Turn your notes in at the end of the day. In order to keep the jurors' notes confidential, every jury member is expected to submit theirs for safekeeping. You will get your notes again at the beginning of each trial day and at the start of deliberations.
Keep your notes for your own use when they are in your possession. Do not share them with other members of the jury.
- If you decide against taking notes, do not use the notes taken by another jury member. You could be influenced by what they have written.
- If you are allowed to take your notes with you at the end of the trial, keep them private. Sharing them with others may be in violation of the oath you took.