lunes, 21 de marzo de 2016

FIRST NOT GUILTY VERDICT OF SAN ISIDRO: AN INTERVIEW WITH JUDGE MARÍA COELHO

After two days of testimony, the fifth trial by jury concluded yesterday in San Isidro, Province of Buenos Aires”.

The Argentinian Association of Jury Trials (AAJJ) interviewed Judge María Coelho, who presided over the jury that rendered the first "not guilty" verdict of San Isidro district:

AAJJ: J. Coelho, you’ve already presided over three of the five jury trials in this district. The most recent one was the first to end with a “not guilty” verdict. Do you agree with the verdict? Would you have decided in the same way the jury did in this case?

María Coelho: Yes, no doubt about it. Definitely, the prosecution did not establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. This was plainly clear to me and to everybody.

Judge María Coelho
AAJJ: Based on your experience, do you think that lawyers (mainly prosecutors and defense attorneys) need to refresh their knowledge on new techniques of adversarial litigation?

MC: Absolutely. It is easy to realize that trial by jury poses new challenges for trial lawyers and judges. We are all used to written procedures. This is a completely different world. The litigants must refine the preparation of their cases, such as: 1) the opening statements and closing arguments; 2) horizontal control in the production of evidence by employing appropriate techniques to carry out the direct and cross examinations of lay witnesses and experts; 3) mastery of techniques of persuasion; 4) the know-how to select potential jurors during voir dire, and so on.

AAJJ: How would you rate the performance of the jury in this last trial?

MC: In this one, as in the previous trials, the citizens were remarkably committed, honest and responsible. In that sense, to add a touch of color, it is interesting to note that one member of the jury, after noticing leaks on the courtroom’s rooftop, volunteered to make the necessary repairs.