Learning about Your Duty: Serving on a Jury

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Our criminal justice system is built upon the principle that everyone who has been accused of a crime has the right to argue their case in front of a jury of their peers. In fact, this right is set forth by the Bill of Rights and appears as the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is the duty of every citizen of the United States of America to serve on a jury when they are summoned.

Responding to a Summons

Your summons for jury duty will arrive by mail. For most courts, these summons are sent out by the Jury Commissioner’s Office. Master lists of potential jurors are provided by the Motor Vehicle Department and the Voter Registration Department. Failure to respond to the summons and to appear as directed may subject individuals to penalty by law. Even by arriving late you could be cited for contempt of court. This is not meant to scare jurors, but it is meant to show them that the matter is to be taken very seriously.

Serving on a Jury

It is strongly recommended that potential jurors arrive at court dressed in business attire. If you are selected as a juror, you will be expected to remain in service until the trial is completed. The average trial lasts 2-7 days. It is your duty as a juror to listen carefully as both prosecution and the defense present their cases. When the trial is concluded, you will be sequestered and given an opportunity to deliberate. Deliberations are to be overseen by the foreman of the jury, who will be selected by the members of the jury. Once the jury has reached a unanimous conclusion, they will report their decision to the court. Juries which are unable to reach a unanimous verdict are considered hung.

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