Mar 17, 2016

Bullock jurors will be allowed to propose questions to witnesses, motion for jury to visit rectory withdrawn

This afternoon, Courtroom 1 was briefly opened. Judge John Feeney said that, "we need to address two issues before the jury comes back tomorrow."

Besides court staff, the Judge, attorneys and Gary Lee Bullock, the only audience members were myself, and reporters from North Coast News and Times-Standard.

"The first is whether the Court should allow jurors to propose questions to witnesses?" said Judge Feeney. He said that initially he was "inclined not to, due to consumption of time." After reviewing "Cal Crim instruction number 106", he said it was the Court's discretion.

California Jury Instructions


106Jurors Asking Questions

PRETRIAL                                                                               CALCRIM 106

If, during the trial, you have a question that you believe should be asked of a witness, you may write out the question and send it tome through the bailiff. I will discuss the question with the attorneys and decide whether it may be asked. Do not feel slightedor disappointed if your question is not asked. Your question may not be asked for a variety of reasons, including the reason that the question may call for an answer that is inadmissible for legal reasons. Also, do not guess the reason your question was not asked or speculate about what the answer might have been. Always remember that you are not advocates for one side or the other in this case. You are impartial judges of the facts.

Judge Feeney then cited California Rule of Court 2.1033.

Rule 2.1033. Juror questions
A trial judge should allow jurors to submit written questions directed to witnesses. An opportunity must be given to counsel to object to such questions out of the presence of the jury.

Judge Feeney said he had drafted a "proposed question form" and asked attorneys their input on the motion.

Conflict Counsel's Mr. Kaleb Cokrum, who represents Bullock, said he opposed the motion and had stated his reasons earlier. He acknowledged that "it is up to the Court" and that if Judge Feeney was going to allow this that the jurors "write out a question and then ample time be provided, out of the presence of the jury, for us to view the question."

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac said the last time he used this in a case, it was in Santa Cruz. And said that if Judge Feeney wanted a case, he cited a 1979 case, People vs Gates from 1979. "It is good procedure and good practice."

"I understand Mr. Cockrum's concern," said Mr. Isaac. "If it appears that the jury is abusing the privilege, it should be withdrawn."

Judge Feeney's final ruling was that jurors will be allowed to submit questions. Each juror will be given the questionnaire form along with their notebook tomorrow.

"The other issue is the motio0n filed yesterday by Mr. Isaac on behalf of the People seeking a jury view of the church premises; inside the rectory of St. Bernard's Church."

Just as Judge Feeney was to announce his tentative decision, Mr. Isaac said, "That motion has been withdrawn."

Bullock waived his presence for scheduling of the trial. The attorneys met informally with Judge Feeney after these two motions were addressed.

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