- County Government
- Departments J-Q
- Jury Commission
- Trial Process
- Step 4: Deliberations by the Jury
Step 4: Deliberations by the Jury
After closing statements by the attorneys and the judge's instructions on the law, the bailiff or court attendant will take you to the jury room for deliberations. Your first duty when entering the jury room is to select a foreperson. The jury should carefully select a well-qualified foreperson. The foreperson's duty is to see that discussion happens in a free and orderly manner, that the issues you must decide are fully and freely discussed, and that every juror is given an opportunity to participate. After you enter the jury room for deliberations, the exhibits that you are to consider are given to you.
If you are not given written instructions from the judge on the law, you may request them. If you feel you need further instructions or to have certain testimony read back to you, inform the judge through the bailiff or the court attendant. Since these purposes can be accomplished only by returning everyone (including parties and lawyers) to the courtroom, you should not make these requests lightly. The procedure usually takes time, but this delay is understandable if you seriously believe doing so is necessary or helpful to you in reaching a verdict.
There is a booklet, "Behind Closed Doors" that can assist jurors with the format of their deliberation. It is published by the American Judicature Society.
Quite often in the jury room the jurors may argue and have a difference of opinion. When this occurs, each juror should try to express his or her opinion and the reasoning supporting it. It would be wrong for a juror to refuse to listen to the arguments and opinions of the others or to deny another juror the right to express an opinion. Remember that jurors are not advocates, but impartial judges of the facts.
By carefully considering each juror's opinion and the reasons behind it, it is usually possible for the jurors to reach a verdict. A juror should not hesitate to change his or her mind when there is a good reason. But each juror should maintain his or her position unless conscientiously persuaded to change that opinion by the other jurors. Following a full and free discussion with fellow jurors, each juror should vote only according to his or her own honest convictions.