Civil actions may go to a trial and there will be a jury present. The selection process is very important. Lawyers have the opportunity to pick potential jurors from a large pool.
How is a Jury Selected?
An average person gets a summons in the mail that they have to report for jury duty. The jurors will listen to the evidence that is presented and will make a decision on the case. To serve on a jury a person has to have a valid driver’s license or be a registered voter. Only around 20% of those summoned will serve on a jury. A person is obligated by law to report when they are summoned for jury duty.
There are a couple of exclusions when it comes to reporting for jury duty. For example those living in the state of New York a person that does not report can face criminal charges. In California they can be fined. Some states may give the jurors free courthouse parking or free meals. An employer must let the employee out of work without punishment if they are summoned for duty.
The Next Step
There are a few things a person should know about this process
- A jury consists of twelve people and two alternates
- Serious criminal cases must have twelve jurors
- Misdemeanor cases may have fewer then twelve
- Most courts require a ¾ vote for a decision
The petit jury is twelve people that will make a decision. Before being accepted all of the jurors are questioned. The attorneys will ask if they have any prejudices or know anything about the case.
A person can be dismissed for jury duty if they have a bias. They cannot be dismissed based on race or gender.
Cases such as those dealing with child support issues are not allowed to discriminate. A case where all male jurors were dismissed made national headlines.
The jury will have to stay for the entire trial. A shadow jury may used by an attorney to practice their arguments. The attorney can change the way they present information based on their reaction. This is a strategy what may help win the case.
Civil Trial Steps
- Attorneys give opening statements
- Witnesses are cross examined
- Evidence is presented
- Closing arguments are given
- The jury is given instruction on how to reach a verdict
The opening statement will allows layers on both sides the chance to talk. No evidence is presented. They will go over the proof they have or lack of.
When a witness is examined they will be asked questions by the lawyers. Each side can question each other’s witnesses.
Redirection may happen if the witness is withholding or may be giving false information.
Evidence is presented to the jury. This can include photos, products, or other tangible items.
Once the closing statements are made the jury is left to decide on a verdict based on what they heard in court.
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