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Being a Juror

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Jury service is considered a duty and must be taken seriously. Jurors are typically ordered to be present at a certain time each morning, to talk to no one about the case and to refrain from reading outside material or doing their own research on the issues. Jurors who disobey the judge's orders will be dismissed from the jury.

Deliberations

Deliberations are the discussions that take place between the jurors in the jury room about the case. If the jurors have obeyed the court's instructions, deliberations are the first time the jurors have talked about the case among themselves. During deliberations, the jurors discuss the evidence and testimony and attempt to reach a verdict. Jury deliberations are secret and never include any persons except the jurors.

Foreperson

At the beginning of deliberations, the jury votes to select one member to be the foreperson. The foreperson has a duty to see that deliberations proceed in an orderly manner and that the case and issues are fully and freely discussed. The foreperson makes sure that every juror is given a chance to participate in deliberations. If there are problems or issues during deliberations, the foreperson notifies the court through a handwritten note. When a verdict is reached, the foreperson completes and signs the verdict form.

I am happy to serve as a juror, but in 2 days I have an important medical appointment. Do I have to cancel my appointment?

No. The judge is typically willing to work around situations involving important personal matters. The trial may be delayed a few hours until your appointment is over or end early that day, depending on the time of your appointment.

TIP: Personal requests must be relayed through the bailiff who will then advise the judge of the issue. You will be called into the judge's chambers and asked to explain the conflict. The lawyers will be present. Generally, the judge and the attorneys are happy to accommodate your request.

What do I do if I know one of my fellow jurors has had a conversation with one of the parties in the trial?

You must immediately report what you saw to the bailiff. Any misconduct or suspicious behavior should be reported because that juror can "taint" deliberations with her bad behavior.

Are juries always sequestered?

No. "Sequestering" a jury means that the jury is taken to a location, away from their homes, during the duration of the trial. Sequestration is rare and expensive for the county that bears the cost of lodging, transportation and meals.

Can I talk to a fellow juror about the trial?

No. The trial may only be discussed when it ends and the jury goes into formal deliberations. The judge should have made this clear when you were first instructed on your duties as a juror.