6.05 Communication with the Court

If it becomes necessary during your deliberations to communicate with me, you may send a note through the jury officer signed by your foreperson or by one or more members of the jury. No member of the jury should ever attempt to communicate with me on anything concerning the case except by a signed writing, and I will communicate with any member of the jury on anything concerning the case only in writing, or orally here in open court. If you send out a question, I will consult with the parties as promptly as possible before answering it, which may take some time. You may continue with your deliberations while waiting for the answer to any question. Remember that you are not to tell anyone including me how the jury stands, numerically or otherwise, until after you have reached a unanimous verdict or have been discharged.


(1) Although Rogers v. United States, 422 U.S. 35, 39 (1975), could be read as requiring any response to a deliberating jury’s questions to occur orally in open court in the defendant’s presence, the First Circuit seems to permit a written response, so long as the lawyers are shown the jury’s note and have the opportunity to comment on the judge’s proposed response. See, e.g., United States v. Maraj, 947 F.2d 520, 525-26 (1st Cir. 1991).

(2) [I]t is always best for the trial judge not to know the extent and nature of a division among the jurors and to instruct the jury not to reveal that information. . . ., if the jury does volunteer its division, the court may rely and act upon it.’ United States v. Rengifo, 789 F.2d 975, 985 (1st Cir. 1986) (quoting United States v. Hotz, 620 F.2d 5, 7 (1st Cir. 1980)).