The Role of a Jury

Posted December 15th, 2012 by admin and filed in Uncategorized

The Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions give the right to a jury trial in civil cases. A bench trial may be preferred by both parties meaning the case it decided by a judge without a jury. But in most cases, if either party desires a jury, it is granted.

Juries are somewhat controversial. There are those who favor their use as a foundational element of the democratic process. But for others, juries seem antiquated, composed of amateurs who have little grasp of the law itself.

Jury Selection

Potential jurors are selected from the rolls of registered voters, licensed drivers and other sources. The purpose is to choose jurors from a large representation of society. Many court systems use a “one day-one trial” system. This limits the juror to appear in the jury pool for one day and if selected, to serve on a jury for just one trial.

Many summoned for jury duty view it more as an inconvenience rather than a civic duty. In order to avoid it, they may claim a statutory excuse, seek exemption for a hardship or simply just not show up. However, if a juror doesn’t appear in court, they may be summoned again or the court may issue an arrest warrant.

Voir Dire: This french legal term meansĀ  “to speak the truth.” A lawyer’s goal is to select an impartial jury, ruling out anyone who may have prior knowledge or associations that could possibly bias their judgement. Potential jurors are asked a series of questions to weed out those who appear partial.




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