Plain language for jurors

Just a quick update today to send a cheer to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which is joining the bandwagon to improve civil jury instructions. Juries have an undeserved reputation for being unable to handle complex civil cases. In fact, much of the problem lies in the language used during the trial, right up to and including the written instructions the judge gives to the jury. As Louisiana’s Chief Justice said,

“Instructions that are given to juries in civil trial should be in language that is plain and easy to comprehend so that juries are not confused by complicated legal language.”

In plain language, we agree. There’s no point making cases any more complex than they need to be, and it’s nice to see a court recognize its own role in making jurors’ jobs harder than they need to be.

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About jgastil

John Gastil is Head and Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, where he specializes in political deliberation and group decision making.
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