When a verdict is returned and before it is recorded, the jury must be polled if requested by any party or upon the court’s own motion.20 The purpose of polling the jury is to determine whether or not there is a concurrence on the part of each individual juror with the verdict announced by the foreperson.21 Any request by counsel to have the court poll the jury made in the presence of the jury should be made in an unemotional manner without comment, and in no way should the request suggest a comment on the verdict.22
No particular method of polling the jury is required, so long as it is clear from the answers of each juror that he or she agrees with the verdict announced by the foreperson. The traditional method is to have the clerk ask each individual juror, “You have heard the verdict of your foreperson – is that your verdict?”, to which each juror then replies “yes” or “no.”23 If a juror adds to a “yes” answer something which indicates a possible absence of unqualified agreement, further examination of the juror may be required to clarify the answer. If there is not a unanimous concurrence, the jury may be directed to retire for further deliberations or may be discharged.24
20. Super. Ct. Cr. R. 31(d); Comm. Pls. Cr. R. 31(d); Fountain v. State, 275 A.2d 251, 252 (Del. 1971).
21. Ruffin v. State, 123 A.2d 461, 467 (Del. 1956); Mancari v. A.C. & S. Co., 541 A.2d 584, 586 (Del. Super. 1988).
22. Mancari v. A.C. & S. Co., 541 A.2d 584, 586 (Del. Super. 1988).
23. Ruffin v. State, 123 A.2d 461, 467 (Del. 1956).
24. Super. Ct. Cr. R. 31(d); Comm. Pls. Ct. Cr. R. 31(d).
© 2010 David L. Finger