Jury Duty

The Process of Being a Juror

Summoning Process

Initial Summons

  • when you receive a summons, you’re receiving an order to appear in court and fill out the questionnaire/Voir Dire

Questionnaire/Voir Dire

  • before each member of the jury is selected, both parties (plaintiff and defendant) ask the potential jurors questions that may reveal facts about them that could be unfavorable, or unfit to serve on the jury

Oath

  • jurors must make an oath to be unbiased and open in their opinions and eventual verdict. You cannot serve on the jury unless

Final Selection Process

  • both parties in the case pick the final 12 jurors who will be unbiased bystanders in trial

Qualifications and Potential Exemptions

Ways for Someone to be Exempt from Jury:

  1. Challenge for Good Cause: Juror can't participate due to being bias, having schooling, having a child, etc.
  2. Preemptory Challenge: Each party has 2 of these and can decline someone from the jury without excuses
  3. Members of the armed forced on active duty, members of state and locatl fire and police departments, and "public officers" or federal, state or local governments, who are actively engaged full-time in the performance of public duties

Qualifications of a Juror

  1. Does not have relations with the case (juror keeps an open, unbiased mind)
  2. Has to be 18 years or older
  3. Has to have resided in a judicial district for one year
  4. Be a US citizen & be adequately proficient in English
  5. Have no disqualifying mental or physical condition
  6. Not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year
  7. Never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored)

Trial/Jury Process

Members of Court

  1. Judge
  2. Defendant
  3. Defendant's attorneys/lawyers
  4. Prosecutor/ Plaintiff
  5. Prosecutor's/Plaintiff's attorneys
  6. Jury
  7. Bailiff/Deputy (court clerk)
  8. Witnesses
  9. Court Reporter
  10. Court Interpreter

Responsibilities of Jury

Jurors must:


  • decide the facts of the case only
  • take directions relating to law from the trial judge, whether or not they agree with him/her
  • remain impartial/independent
  • remain uninfluenced by any person
  • keep statements made in the jury room confidential

Layout of the Trial Proceedings

Steps in Trial:

  1. Selection of Jury
  2. Opening Statements
  3. Presentation of Evidence and Testimony of Witnesses
  4. Closing Arguments
  5. Presentation of Jury Instructions
  6. Deliberation

History of Jury Process

  • jury has long history, going as early as the English Magna Carta (2015)
  • 5th Amendment guarantees the right to a grand jury indictment
  • 7th Amendment provides right to a jury in certain civil cases

American Jury Compared to 2 Others

Greece:
  • no one could select jurors for there own trial
  • for capital cases, those that involved death, loss of liberty, exile, loss of civil rights, or seizure of property, the trial was before a jury of 1,001 to 1,501 (unrealistic to have unanimous, verdicts were reached by majority)
  • now, the jury consists of 12 people: 6 people picked by the defense and 6 picked by the prosecution

Rome:

  • was some sort of jury since the beginning of the republic
  • capital juries were composted of hundreds or thousands of people
  • high government officials and their relatives were not allowed to act as jurors or justices, due to conflicts of interest
  • those who were found guilty of serious felonies were banned from being a juror too

Why is the American jury system important to achieving justice?

  1. Why does it have to be a duty?

Being a juror is a duty because someone has to do it and it's needed to keep the American jury system working. Also, if nobody was chosen for jury duty, how else would verdicts for different trials be given fairly?

2. Why is it the best way to find an accurate verdict?

If you are on trial for a something, you're going to want a fair trial. You can get this fair trial by having a sample of people from society, who will judge the case fairly and with an open mind. You get more than one person deciding your future, you get 12.