Foreman: Oh, yeah. In the hall on the way to the jury room.
The closing arguments are over, and the defense attorney retires to a meeting room to discuss the case and possible outcomes with his or her client.
Only after a short amount of dramatic dialogue, a court aide or other supporting character comes back and tells the defense that deliberation has concluded and the verdict is to be read.
Causing people in and out of universe to exclaim "Already?"
Since jury trials include a great deal of information (opening arguments, the testimony of multiple witnesses, cross-examinations, and so on), jury deliberations, which should review all this material as well as instructions from the judge, are expected to take considerable time. When a jury returns a verdict in half an hour or less, this trope is in effect.
There are several possible reasons for the rapid deliberation:
- One side may have had a really weak case. If a Frivolous Lawsuit makes it as far as a jury trial, hopefully this will kick in.
- The trial's been dragging on for a while, and the jurors have already had plenty of time to think about the evidence.
- The jurors are biased and letting their biases do the voting. This isn't supposed to happen (juror selection is meant to find an unbiased jury), but it does.
- The case is being heard before a single judge (a bench trial) instead of a jury.
In news coverage, reporters tend to assume this trope is operating. It's common for news reports to say "just" or "only" when noting how long deliberations took, as if they expected them to be out longer.
Can happen as part of a Kangaroo Court. Often practiced by a Joker Jury. May also figure in a Miscarriage of Justice. A trial for a Frivolous Lawsuit should be this assuming the jury isn't stupid or rigged. A Rogue Juror can subvert this trope.
- In this commercial for Value City Furniture a woman who says she got her new bedroom for "a steal" is busted by one of her friends who is wearing a Hidden Wire.
Denise: A steal means it was super affordable.
Man: Tell it to the judge.
Judge: (walking out of bathroom) She just did. Jury, have you reached a verdict?
(closet door opens to reveal jury)
Foreman: We have, your honor.
- In the first issue of the Dan Slott She-Hulk series, Shulkie manages to break the record for the fastest jury deliberation in history, which is initially taken as a sign of her skills as a prosecutor. Unfortunately, the defendants convince the judge to declare a mistrial because She-Hulk saved the world on the day before the verdict came down, which they argued might have unduly influenced the jury.
- The Lucky Luke story introducing Billy the Kid has the first trial fail because the jury is terrified of the title character. After Luke's plan destroys that fear and gets Billy on trial again, the narration specifies that this time the jury deliberated for nine seconds before declaring him guilty.
- Narrowly averted in 12 Angry Men and the Rogue Juror trope it inspired: if it weren't for one guy, they'd have voted for conviction in about five minutes.
- In Back to the Future Part II, it's mentioned in passing that Marty's son was tried, convicted, and sentenced within a mere two hours of his arrest. Doc Brown explains that the criminal justice system is much more efficient since the abolition of lawyers.
- In To Kill a Mockingbird the jury on Tom Robinson's trial comes back with a verdict very quickly. Because they're all bigoted, white, Southern men in a setting before The Civil Rights Movement, they found the black man on trial guilty almost immediately, despite having lots of facts presented to them that indicated he wasn't. But of course, they take almost no time to consider them.
- Despite the quick turnaround, this is actually a subversion. It takes a couple hours of deliberation to find Tom guilty and while the reader is supposed to see this as unusually short for a rape trial with so much disproved evidence, the crowd in the court believe this is an unusually long time to return a deliberation, especially a guilty verdict and it is outright stated that there was at least one Rogue Juror in the room, who, given his personality, most likely had to be threatened into compliance.
- In the children's book Mystery in the Night Woods Flying Squirrel is on trial for kidnapping Miss Owl. The jurors literally don't leave the courtroom, or even talk to each other, before rendering their decision.
Judge Bullfrog: Now, members of the jury, is Flying Squirrel guilty or not guilty? I want you to think carefully before you decide anything. You have a great responsibility.
Jury Foreman (a toad): I think we've already decided.
(he looks at the other animals; they nod)
- A footnote in one of A P Herbert's Misleading Cases In The Common Law:
In Rex v Strauss (1928) 9 Cr App R 91, a bailiff acting for the Inland Revenue was struck and killed with a book of sermons while removing, from the premises of the accused, a wireless set belonging to the accused; as well as two Rabbits, the property of a favourite daughter. The defence was that distress for income tax was a gross provocation comparable to the discovery of a wife in the arms of another (see Rex v Mouldy, 1 Ventris 158), and such as to produce an uncontrollable impulse depriving a man of the ordinary powers of self-control. The jury, without leaving the box, returned a verdict of 'Justifiable Homicide'; but the following day was Derby Day, and therefore the decision is not regarded as settled law.
- In the Diamond Brothers book Public Enemy Number Two, Nick is framed for robbery, then in the process of trying to escape from the scene of the frame-up manages to add assault, trespass, criminal damage and cruelty to animals to his rap sheet, then in the ensuing trial Tim, as the witness for the defence, manages only to repeatedly implicate him. The jury takes exactly forty-five seconds to reach a guilty verdict.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Trial by Jury" (and its radio equivalent, "Reckless Driving"), Miss Brooks notes the jury made a quick decision, punishing her with "a rather stiff fine". Mr. Conklin, who was on the jury, wanted to hurry out of court and go fishing.
- Subverted in the '80s BBC adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Strong Poison. Two reporters awaiting the verdict in Harriet Vane's murder trial expect the jurors to return quickly:
Young Reporter: They won't be long, I shouldn't think. Pretty damned obvious.
Older Reporter: Yes. We'll miss the six-thirty edition unless the jury gets a move on. The old man's careful, but he's very slow.
Young Reporter: They've got to make some show of considering their verdict. Give them twenty minutes. They'll want a smoke.
Older Reporter: So do I. Fancy one?
Young Reporter: Let's go.
- Some hours pass, and eventually the jury foreman must report that they cannot reach a verdict.
- In The George Lopez Show episode "George Testi-Lies for Benny", when Benny is on trial for a crime she committed 30 years ago, the jury already reached a verdict before they made it to the jury room and they find Benny guilty.
- The Flash (2014): Barry mentions in the third episode that (because the evidence wouldn't make sense otherwise, understandably because it was impossible to believe that a speedster from the future could have done it) the case to convict Dr. Henry Allen for the murder of his wife was so ironclad that it only took the jury 52 minutes to declare him guilty.
- Batman (1966): One episode ends with the Joker and Catwoman being tried. Their lawyer doesn't cross-examine any witnesses brought by the prosecution and doesn't try to introduce any evidence that could help his clients so it's not much of a surprise the jury's leader declares there's no need to step out of the court to deliberate. The surprise is that they decide to acquit the defendants. When said juror's mustache starts falling, Batman figures out Catwoman and the Joker had their henchmen as the jury and they end up being arrested.
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: Subverted. The Dekarangers' Licenses have a special mode that sends all known evidence and current bioreadings to "the highest court in the galaxy", getting a verdict back in eight seconds. The subversion comes from the "Ten Years Later" reunion special, which explains that the court handling the judgments is on a planet surrounded by a temporal distortion...so for every case, they've actually spent eight months deliberating.
- In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit "Mean", the Beta Bitches on trial for murder play the role of a Guilt-Ridden Accomplice. This might have worked...until Novak pointed out that one of them was wearing their victim's ring. When Novak walks out of the courtroom and tells Benson and Stabler the verdict was guilty on all counts, Stabler checks his watch and notes that took fifteen minutes.
- In the penultimate track of Pink Floyd's "The Wall", the deliberation is skipped altogether.
Judge Worm: The evidence before the court is / Incontrovertible, There's no need for / The jury to retire.
- Warhammer Fantasy: One Bretonnian noble is noted to have an expeditive method of resolving claims that come to his court: he hears what both parties have to say, then declares the one with the highest social rank to be in the right.
- In Daughter for Dessert, it barely takes any time at all for the jury to find the protagonist not guilty of breaking and entering. Justified, as all of the evidence against him was ruled as inadmissible during the trial.
- In GPF, Fooker's trial (comic date 3/16/2002) is extremely short. Judge: You were only gone 5 minutes! Juror: Oh, we decided yesterday. Juror 8 has a squash game.
- Spoofed in one episode. The jury dramatically walked into a room to deliberate and then immediately walked out the next door. And then declared the defendant guilty.
- Another episode has a Supreme Court case in which the justices decide "using high-speed telepathy" in a matter of moments.
- In Rooty Toot Toot, the jury rush into the deliberation room and spend all of half a second before rushing back in to deliver the verdict.
- In Rocko's Modern Life "Fly Burgers", Flecko the fly tries to sue Rocko for almost "killing" him. During the trial, Flecko gave a sob story that made the judge and the jury (who are bugs) angry at Rocko. When the judge told the jury to reach a verdict, they just go in and out a revolving door before finding him guilty.
- The Simpsons: Parodied in the episode "The Boy Who Saw Too Much", the jury of Freddy Quimby's trial was all set to vote "guilty" from the moment they walked out of the courtroom (Freddy Quimby was just that Obviously Evil), and the only reason Homer becomes a Rogue Juror is that he wants to exploit the free hotel stay they would get if they are deadlocked.
- Super Friends 1973-74 episode "The Menace of the White Dwarf". The supervillain Raven puts Superman on trial. At the end of the trial, the jurors find Superman guilty, without even leaving the jury box or deliberating. It's justified in this case, because the jury is made up of Raven's robots, who are programmed to find Superman guilty.
- In the Classic Disney Short "Pluto's Judgement Day", Pluto has a nightmare where he is tried in Hell by devil cats for the crime of attacking cats (which Pluto did earlier in the cartoon and which, because of it, Mickey Mouse warns his dog that he will have a lot to answer for on judgment day). As shown in the page image, the jury literally goes in and out a revolving door before finding him guilty, and the jurors leave so quickly that the first to enter has come out before the rest have even gone in.
- Al Franken was sued by the Fox News Channel for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right for using Fox News's motto: "Fair and Balanced". The judge heard both sides' arguments and told them he needed a moment to consider. He stepped out of the courtroom for two seconds before returning and saying, "Your (Fox's) claim is completely without merit, both legally and factually."
- Marissa Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband. The jury reached its verdict after just 12 minutes of deliberation. (She was released after three years when she took a plea deal.)
- The jury in Fatty Arbuckle's third manslaughter trial took ten minutes to acquit him and issued an impassioned statement in Arbuckle's defense. Unfortunately for Arbuckle, it was too late to resurrect his career.
- In the Clay Shaw trial (made famous by the movie JFK), the jury took fifteen minutes — including the bathroom break — to acquit Shaw of conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy.
- The OJ Simpson Murder trial was the longest trial in U.S. History, beginning on January 24, 1995, to October 3rd, 1995. The jury was sworn in on November 9th, 1994, so they were attached to it for the better part of a year. The decision was rendered in four hours on October 2nd, 1995, but the judge held it off for a day due to the sheer size of the trial. Some years thereafter, at least a couple of the jurors publicly came forward and admitted that it was exactly because of the very lengthy trial that they jumped to the verdict so quickly. At that point, they were simply utterly exhausted from being held up at the trial for nearly a year and just wanted to go home.