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The jury is out

Posted by Lewis on September 03, 2004

In Reply to: The jury is out posted by Ward on September 02, 2004

: : : : What can the "out" mean?
: : : : and how it is applied to the common langugage?

: : : : Thanks

: : : Just add the word "deliberating":
: : : The jury is out deliberating the fate of the defendant.

: : A jury physically moves from IN the courtroom (where they hear the evidence) to Outside the courtroom, to a separate room, where they discuss and decide the case.

: 'the jury is out' has taken on additional and broader meaning. Whenever the final word or decision on an issue is still pending, it is said that the jury is out. The agent making the decison is metaphorically compared with the jury. So it may be said that the jury is still out on that issue.

Bit more detail - although a Jury can be sent from the courtroom whilst legal arguments about the admissibility of evidence are being heard, the jury are only regarded as being "out" when they are considering the verdict after hearing the evidence from both sides, legal argument and the 'summing up' by the Judge.

To say that 'the jury's out' implies that all the evidence and arguments are known, but that a decision one way or other is still be made. it implies that the decision is a difficult one - as jury's return a verdict quickly in simple cases - often just minutes. in difficult cases, the jury can take days or even a week to decide.

the phrase sometimes gets misused and sometimes gets said when some piece of information has yet to be known - 'the jury's out on that until we hear about the costings' for example. that use is incorrect, as the phrase should only be used when complete information (all the evidence) is known.