Duties of a juror vary over the nature of the case. If there is a civil lawsuit then jurors have a duty to determine whether the plaintiff has a right or the remedy be given to the defendant. Similarly in case of damages the jurors are duty bound to determine the amount of the damages.
But in the criminal law, there Duties of a Juror are two types of jury i.e the grand jury and the trial jury. Jurors of both the juries have different functions. Grand jury determines whether there is a probable cause to prosecute the defendant whereas the trial jurors have a duty of ascertaining the verdict regarding the guilt or innocence.
What are the duties of a juror?
In this article, we have enlisted the primary duties of a juror whether they belong to the civil jury or trial jury, they must have to proceed in accordance with the law and practice.
- Jurors have to decide the facts of the case.
- Must consider the evidence presented before the jury.
- It is a duty of a juror to take directions relating to law from the trial judge.
- Jurors should not discuss the case except with the members of the jury.
- Juror shall remain impartial and independent.
- Jurors must remain uninfluenced by any person.
- The juror should inform the court if insisted by any person.
- Jurors must keep the statements confidential made in the jury room.
Jurors are selected completely at random from the electro register to ensure transparency.
Juror represents a cross-section of society anyone on the Electoral Register who’s between 18 and 75 is liable for jury service and could be called at any time.
Some people are disqualified from serving on a jury and these are listed in boxes A and B on the leaflet sent with your summons.
If you’ve ever been on probation sentenced to imprisonment or community service or if you’re currently on bail it could be an offence for you to serve on a jury.
If you’re unsure about your eligibility please speak to the jury officer in confidence before you were selected to sit on trial.
What is the role of a juror?
Your role as a juror is an important one.
You need to carefully consider all the evidence presented to you during the trial.
Then together with your fellow jurors decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the offense they have been charged with.
It’s really important that you arrive at court each day on time. If you face any delays traveling to the court or are ill please contact your jury officer.
Always remember to bring your summons with you sometimes delays outside our control mean you might have to wait around for some time and assure you we do everything possible to keep it to a minimum.
Please remember that you must get permission from court staff to leave the jury area or the court building.
Most of you can expect to finish your jury service within 10 working days but some trials can last longer if you’re selected to serve on a longer case you’ll be given an estimate of how long is expected to last and if you can’t commit to that length of time, you’ll have the chance to let the court know.
Please don’t be afraid to let staff know of any difficulties that you have because every stage of the selection is random.
Some jurors may end up trying a number of cases and some may not be selected to sit on a trial at all.
If you have any problems reading, writing or understanding English or if you have difficulty hearing or have any other disability which may affect your ability to serve as a juror please inform a jury officer at the earliest opportunity or before you are called to sit on a trial.
It is an offense for anyone to impersonate a juror and to serve on their behalf as a matter of routine.
You may be asked to show some form of identification at any time if you haven’t been in a courtroom before it can be confusing so it helps to have some idea of who’s who and where they sit.
The judge controls proceedings from the bench at the front of the courtroom.
A High Court judge is called My Lord or My Lady.
A circuit judge is called Your Honor.
All judges wear robes and wigs.
In front of the judge sits the court clerk who wears a black gown.
Two legal teams representing the prosecution and the defense who are always closest to the jury.
Each team has an advocate who will be wearing a black gown and usually a wig.
They will present and argue their case to you.
The defendant sits in the dock and will often be accompanied by a dock officer.
Witnesses give evidence from the witness box or sometimes via videolink or behind a screen.
Finally there’s an area in the courtroom for the press and the public gallery.
Please remember that you are not allowed to smoke or take pictures inside a courtroom.
When a trial is ready to begin the jury officer will randomly select a panel of around 15 people to go into the courtroom.
If your name isn’t called out please stay in the jury waiting area for the next trial to be called.
When, in court, the court clerk will select 12 names at random from the panel and call them out if your name is called, confirm your identity by saying yes loudly and clearly and take a seat in the jury box.
The selection of a particular juror if the judge accepts a challenge the juror won’t be required to serve on that particular case and they’ll be asked to leave the jury box.
You may be challenged for many different reasons so don’t take it personally if it happens to you.
If you’re not challenged then you’ll be asked to take the jurors oath.
This is usually done by taking a holy book of your choice and reading the oath from a card “I swear by Almighty God that I will faithfully try to defend it and give a treatment”.
If you do not want to swear on the holy book you can ask to affirm “I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare” and the words are very similar to the oath and carry equal meaning.
After twelve jurors have been sworn those not chosen were returned to the jury assembly area where they may be called upon to serve on another trial.
Once the jury has been selected the court clerk reads out the charges made against the defendant and the trial will begin.
Then the witnesses are called sworn and questioned.
This is called evidence-in-chief.
When it is finished the defense has the opportunity to question each witness to find any weaknesses or contradictions in their evidence.
This is called cross-examination.
When all the prosecution witnesses have been questioned, cross examined and re-examined if necessary, by the prosecution it’s the turn of the defense.
The defense can present their case if they wish to do so.
The procedure is similar but this time the defense called their witnesses and they were cross-examined by the prosecution and if necessary re-examined by the defense.
The judge may intervene from time to time to keep the trial on course.
You may need to deal with a point of law or difficulty that has arisen you will be asked to leave the courtroom while this is dealt with when all the evidence has been given.
The prosecution and defense may give their closing speeches and we ask you when you retire after consideration to return verdicts of guilty.
They will talk directly to you as they refer to the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases finally to help you decide your verdict.
The judge will tell you what the law requires and summarize the facts of the case if at any point you need further explanation or want to ask a question you can do so by passing a note to the judge.
If you feel you need to use the toilet or de-stress by the evidence please don’t be afraid to tell someone.
Again pass a note or simply raise your hand to get the attention.
It’s vital that your opinion is based purely on what you hear and see within the courtroom and you aren’t influenced by any outside factors.
Please don’t discuss any details of the trial with anyone other than your fellow jurors, not even your family and please don’t remove any items of evidence or notes from the courtroom.
It is very important that if anyone approaches you about the trial or tries to influence you in any way you do not discuss it with any members of your jury and tell the jury officer or assure immediately.
An important notice to all jurors that you are reminded of it’s a criminal offense punishable with a fine and/or imprisonment.
For a juror to disclose to any person any particular statements made opinions, express arguments, advances or votes cast by the members of the jury in the course of their deliberations this means you must not speak to anyone at all about the cases apart from your fellow jurors.
When you’re all together you must not use social networking sites to post details about any aspect of your jury service or about the discussion and decisions made by you.
You will also commit a criminal offense if you use the internet to research details about any cases.
Along with any of the cases listed for trial at the court please ensure you and fellow jurors observe the rules.
If any concerns about this please speak to a member of court staff.
The judge will explain your duties as a juror before you’re taken to the jury deliberation room to discuss the evidence and make your decision.
You’ll be asked to nominate a full person to chair your discussions and act as a spokesperson.
Remember, it’s a serious offence to disclose any information about anything that’s discussed in the jury room including the opinions of any juror usually the jury must continue discussing the evidence until they all agree on the verdict.
Sometimes the judge may decide to accept a verdict that is not unanimous the judge will tell you when this is appropriate.
Once the jury has reached agreement you’ll return to the courtroom and the clerk will ask the four persons to deliver the verdict.
If this is you, be very careful to answer only those questions asked by the clerk has the jury reached a verdict upon which you’ll all agree that you find the defendant guilty or not.
After this the jury’s role in the trial is over but you should wait for the judge to tell you when to leave.
If you found the defendant guilty, the judge may not pass a sentence on the same day.
If you have any queries during your jury service you can always speak to the jury officer or telephone the court office.
The phone number is on the jury summons.
If you are summoned again within two years you have the right to refuse or may serve.
After your service you are entitled to claim certain expenses and an allowance towards any loss of earnings or benefits arising from your attendance at court.
The jury officer will give you expenses forms and further details.
Your role as a juror isn’t easy.
One there can be a lot of waiting around many rules and formalities to follow and lots to take in.