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Jury Duty

The Process of Jury Selection

You and others called for jury duty will be taken into a courtroom. Names will be randomly drawn to take a seat in the jury box. Those not called will remain in the hallway or courtroom.

The judge will state the names of the parties in the case, the names of the lawyers who will represent them, and describe what the case is about.

Next the judge and the attorneys will question each of the people in the jury box to find out if you can be fair and impartial in the case.

One of the attorneys may "challenge you for cause." This means that the attorney will ask the judge to excuse you from the jury for a specific legal reason. Each lawyer has an unlimited number of challenges for cause.

Each attorney also has the right to a certain number of peremptory challenges. That is, the attorney may ask that you be excused without giving any reason at all. If this happens, don't take it personally. The lawyer is merely exercising a right given by law.

Regardless of whether or not you are selected, you are asked NOT to discuss the case outside of the courtroom.

The Trial

After the required number of jurors has been chosen, the jury panel is sworn to try the case.

The attorneys will make an opening statement to the jurors and then present the evidence. Next, a closing statement will be made by each side. The judge will then instruct the jurors regarding their duties.

In the jury deliberation room, one person will be selected as the foreperson. He or she will lead the discussion and encourage everyone to join in. Don't be afraid to speak up during these deliberations: the whole idea of a jury is to come to a decision after full and frank discussion based on calm, unbiased reasoning.

The Verdict

When you have reached a verdict, the foreperson will record your verdict on an official form. The bailiff will tell the judge that you are ready, and you will return to the jury box. The judge will ask if you have reached a verdict, and the foreperson will answer, handing the written verdict to the clerk, who will read it aloud. Sometimes one of the parties will ask that the jury be polled. This means that the clerk will ask each juror if this is his or her own verdict. The jury's service will then be complete.





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