A mistrial occurs if the court abandons the case before its natural conclusion. If your personal injury case is declared a mistrial, it means you have to start the case from scratch. The following are some of the reasons a judge might declare a mistrial for a personal injury case.
Judge or Lawyer Dies
The death of a judge or lawyer may trigger a mistrial, particularly if the case had significantly progressed. Say you are litigating a controversial personal injury case, you have presented your arguments, testimony, and evidence, but then new evidence comes to light that the judge agrees should be heard. However, before the new evidence is presented in court so that both sides can debate it, either your lawyer or the judge passes away. In such a case, the court may determine that the case cannot proceed and declare a mistrial.
Lawyer Commits Misconduct
Although lawyers are professional, you cannot discount the risk that one may commit misconduct. Say you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case, and you have a criminal history. If your criminal history is not material to the case at hand or are sealed, then the defense should not bring up the issue on court. A defense lawyer commits legal misconduct if they mention your past crimes. In such a case, the judge may determine that the misconduct might prejudice the jury against you and declare a mistrial.
Plaintiff Commits Misconduct
You don't have to hire a lawyer to handle your personal injury case; you can litigate the case on your own if you are capable. However, the judge, defense team, and every party associated with the case expect you to follow the law whether you are conversant with it or not. The judge might declare a mistrial if you keep making mistakes, either intentionally or unwittingly, and the mistakes are likely to affect the case's outcome.
Judge or Juror Is Called To Testify
The court may also declare a mistrial if a juror or the judge handling the case is called to testify as an eyewitness. First, the case will require a new judge, and they have to listen to the case from the beginning so the initial proceeding will end in a mistrial. Also, the court needs a specific number of jurors to try a case. If one of the jurors is called to testify, they must vacate their jury duty, and the jury will fall short of the required number.
Say your case has six jurors, and you need at least five votes to decide the case either way. If one of the jurors becomes an eyewitness, they can no longer vote as a juror, and no one can preempt how the juror would have voted. As a result, the five-to-one vote possibility is lost, and a new trial is called for.
Contact a personal injury attorney, like Carl L. Britt, Jr., if you have further questions.