Courts instruct juries to base their verdicts solely on the evidence  without speculating on what might be held back.  Jurors often want to know if a traffic ticket was given and conclude that if there is no proof a ticket was given, then they must acquit, or if a ticket was given the defendant was at fault.

Florida law forbids any proof on this delicate issue.  Courts reason that the opinion of a cop is irrelevant, and prohibit any mention one way or the other on this issue.   As a  trial lawyer representing plaintiffs I would like to be able to let the jury know the defendant got a ticket, but it would instantly result in a mistrial. Sometimes a defendant will want to put into evidence that they did NOT get ticketed.  Same rule applies.

I have over dinner parties with friends discussed this rule of evidence and they are always outraged, think the law is stupid, and make comments about how this doesn’t make sense.

I once tried the same case twice because of this rule.  The defendant accidentally turned left at a red light into my client riding his motorcycle, causing severe injuries.  She got a ticket for violating his right of way, and careless driving.  In the first trial, the defendant blurted out to the jury that she got a ticket.  That resulted in an immediate MISTRIAL.  In the second trial, with a new jury, there was no proof of a ticket. After hearing the case, the second jury speculated whether a ticket was given.  They concluded since there was no evidence that the defendant got a ticket she must not have done anything wrong,  and therefore returned their Verdict for the defendant.

After the trial, I got a call from the jury foreman, who had gone to the police station to look up the incident.  He was angry.  He demanded to know why I had not put the ticket into evidence.  When I explained why, he was amazed, but it was too late to fix the Verdict. Even after I explained why he still did not believe me.  I told him he had violated his oath as a juror by speculating about something that was not in evidence.

It is important to follow the law or injustice will result. A Verdict should not be based on speculation.   If you have any questions about accident cases, please feel free to call or email.

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