Should I Waive a Jury Trial and Instead Have a Bench Trial?

In this interesting decision — State v. Colby, 295 Or. App. 246 (2018) — the Court of Appeals ruled that  a trial court presiding over a bench trial cannot just refuse to disclose the legal principles that it has applied in construing the elements necessary to adjudicate guilt, as long as a defendant properly raises that issue. The procedure used by Colby’s defense counsel—submitting proposed instructions and asking for a ruling on those instructions—was a permissible means of raising the legal issue of what the state was required to prove with regard to defendant’s mental state. Indeed, the Court of Appeals observed, it is not uncommon for a court to receive proposed instructions from the parties during the course of a bench trial and to instruct itself on the correct version of the law, thereby creating a record that allows us to review whether the court applied the correct principles of law in reaching its verdict.

TL;DR: Probably not, no.

 

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