|Duty of Every Citizen|
The service you will be performing as jurors in this Court is the cornerstone of our judicial system. It is a vital duty of every citizen, an absolute essential to our form of democratic society. Without it, our system of justice could be ruled by oppression or engulfed in anarchy. Fulfilling your obligation as a juror insures your fellow citizens of a fair decision regarding their property rights, or their life and liberty.
The process of selecting jurors for this term of Court began several months ago when a computer system randomly chose your name from Voter and Driver's License lists in Monroe County.
For many of you, serving as a juror is an inconvenience and a sacrifice. However, the success of the jury system depends upon your willingness to serve. Your contribution is important, not only to the community, but also to you personally since our form of society is only as strong as its system of justice. Your participation as a juror will leave you with firsthand knowledge of the judicial branch of government. You will find most trials extremely interesting and will feel gratified to have taken part in a real-life experiences of great significance to your fellow man. You should take pride in helping to preserve and strengthen our system of justice.
Court begins and ends at the discretion of the trial judge each day. It is important to be on time, since many people are dependent upon your actions.
When serving on a jury, you must follow the rules of conduct, which are significant to your impartiality. You must not talk to anyone about the case. This includes your family, friends, and your fellow jurors. Only when sent to the jury deliberation room to deliberate may you discuss the case. To protect jurors from someone speaking unintentionally to you about a case, all jurors must wear the juror identification button in a conspicuous place. If a person attempts to discuss the case with you, you should walk away and inform the court officers immediately. In addition, you must avoid radio or television reports, or accessing newspaper articles or the internet/social media to investigate/discuss the case.
You must not make an independent investigation or visit any places involved in the case. If it is proper or necessary, the Judge will order the jury, as a group, to visit the scene. Remember, you may only consider evidence presented in Court, and must not form an opinion until all evidence has been presented.
Other rules of conduct, no less significant than the preceding rules, include listening attentively. Since your verdict is based on the evidence presented in Court, you should hear every question and every answer. Remember, you are the sole finders of the facts, the judges of the truthfulness and accuracy of the testimony and evidence.
Voir dire is a French term that refers to the preliminary examination of an individual’s qualifications to be a juror. These questions may seem quite personal; however, this examination is not meant to embarrass you or reflect upon your character or intelligence. Rather, the purpose is to find out if you have any views which may improperly influence you as a juror. Remember the proper selection of a jury is dependent upon the candidness of your responses.
After all evidence is closed, the attorneys have made their closing arguments, and the Judge’s charges have been given, it is time to retire to the Jury Deliberation Room to begin the deliberation process. One of the first things the jury must do is to choose a jury foreperson. The foreperson has no more authority or vote than any other juror. He/she ensures that each juror has a chance to speak and that each juror’s opinion is treated with respect. The foreperson will be the one to announce the verdict in open court.
Remember, in judging the credibility and weight of the evidence, you should use your understanding of human nature and your common sense. Observe each witness giving testimony. Be alert for anything in the witness’ words, demeanor or behavior on the witness stand, or for anything in the other evidence in the case which may help you to judge the truthfulness, accuracy and weight of the testimony. You should also consider carefully the statements and arguments of counsel. It is proper to be guided by them in statements, if they are supported by the law and the evidence and appeal to your reason and judgment.
Finally, you are ready to decide the verdict. In criminal cases, a unanimous jury is required to find the defendant guilty. In civil cases, 5/6 of the jurors must be in agreement.
Once you have reached a verdict, the foreperson knocks on the door and informs the court officer that the jury has reached a verdict. The court officer will inform the Judge, and once everyone is back in the courtroom, you will be brought back in and the verdict will then be announced. After the verdict is announced and recorded, the jury has completed its duties and is discharged.
After discharge, jurors are permitted, but not required, to talk about the case. However, you are not permitted to disclose what another juror said in the deliberation room.
The Judges of the Court thank each of you for contributing your time for jury duty. While service may sometimes be inconvenient, it is an extremely important civic duty. Without citizens willing to serve as jurors, our system of justice would not exist. We hope you have found the experience to be both educational and rewarding.