Trial Court Law Libraries

Table of Contents

(A) Notice of Right

Every defendant appearing in the District Court Department in a case over which the court will exercise final jurisdiction shall be notified of his or her right to jury trial in the first instance. Such notice shall be given orally to the defendant by the judge or by the session clerk at arraignment, provided that the defendant is represented by counsel or has waived counsel. If the defendant does not have counsel or does not waive
counsel at arraignment, the notice shall be given as soon as the defendant thereafter appears before the court with counsel or having waived counsel.

The oral notice of right to first-instance jury trial shall include a statement to the defendant that if he or she waives this right he or she will receive a trial before a judge and if not satisfied with the results. of that trial will be able to appeal for a new trial before a jury.

The defendant shall decide whether or not he or she will waive this right to first-instance jury trial at the time the notice of that right is given to him or her unless the court allows further time.

(B) Waiver of Right

If the defendant decides to waive the right to first-instance jury trial, he or she shall so indicate on the form promulgated by the Chief Justice of the District Court Department.

Before the defendant signs this form the judge shall be satisfied that the waiver is voluntarily and knowingly made and to that end shall (1) advise the defendant and be sure the defendant understands that by waiving first-instance jury trial he or she is not losing the constitutional right to trial by jury, but that a trial by a jury will be available only after a trial without one, and (2) satisfy himself or herself that the defendant's waiver is not the product of pressure and that the defendant is not intoxicated or otherwise incapable of rational judgment.

When the judge feels it necessary, the judge should also inform the defendant of the essential elements of the jury trial, i.e. that the jury consists of members of the community; that the defendant may participate in their selection; that the jury verdict must be unanimous; that they decide guilt or innocence while the judge makes rulings of law and, when guilt is found, imposes sentence; and that when no jury is involved the judge alone decides guilt or innocence.