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What is the difference between a bench trial and a jury trial?

If you are going to court in Louisiana, you will usually have a choice between a jury trial and a bench trial. According to the American Bar Association, a jury trial is where your case is decided by a jury of your peers. A bench trial is where the judge decides the case.

In a jury trial, there is a lot of uncertainty as to how the jury will react to your case. You do not know anything about the jurors except for information they have provided or anything learned during the process of choosing the jury. In a bench trial, you have the advantage of being able to know the judge's opinions in previous cases similar to yours.

A bench trial also allows you to better understand the person making the decision on your case. With a jury trial, you do not have that same understanding. A jury is made up of multiple people. It can be difficult to get a read on them all. In a bench trial, you can tailor your case to the judge based on what you know about him or her.

In a jury trial, you are often given a bit more leeway when it comes to questioning witnesses and leading the trial. In a bench trial, the judge will often take over and direct things as she or he sees fit. In addition, you may need to keep things briefer when the judge is deciding your case than when a jury is. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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  • ABA American Bar Association
  • Louisiana State Bar Association - Serving the Public. Serving the Profession.
  • The National Trial Lawyers - The Association