Questioning Witnesses by Jurors in the Virgin Islands

In the Virgin Islands, chapter 65 of title 5 of the Virgin Islands Code, which is titled "Procedure for Presentation of Evidence," governs how evidence is presented in civil and criminal cases in Virgin Islands local courts, while chapter 309 governs the conduct of criminal trials. None of these statutory provisions authorize jurors to question any witnesses. Rather, sections 731 and 732 of chapter 65 vest the trial judge with some discretion over the order that evidence is presented and how witnesses may be questioned by the parties, while sections 733 through 736 authorize parties to question witnesses and establish guidelines for the scope of direct and cross-examination. Similarly, section 3631 of chapter 309 provides that, in criminal cases, the parties may introduce evidence, with no reference to jurors being able to question witnesses or otherwise produce evidence. Moreover, no court rule authorizes jurors to ask questions of witnesses, and the Court has not previously exercised its inherent powers to expand the role of jurors in such a way.