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Jury duty is a civic responsibility that every adult must suffer through at least once in their life. A trial by jury is the cornerstone of the legal system that allows a defendant to present their case to citizens from their community. For instance, a San Diego Criminal Attorney will not have to represent their client in front of citizens from Los Angeles, who may have a different set of values.
This process upholds the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution that guarantees the right to a speedy trial, the right to an attorney, and the right of an impartial jury. For a case to be presented to a jury the county prosecutor must file formal charges against the suspect. Taking a case to trial is an expensive endeavor that may require months of court hearings, so a prosecutor will do everything in their power to reach a plea agreement to speed along the process and pad their conviction percentage.
The jury has many important roles to ensure a fair trial, including: remaining impartial no matter the case, hearing the facts presented by both legal teams, interpreting the laws as the judge sees fit, keeping confidentiality of all information pertaining to the case, and reaching a unanimous verdict.
The first role of the jury is to remain impartial no matter the case. This means that you must ignore your personal feelings about a crime, or people involved in the trial, and make a decision based solely in facts. The jury is vetted through an extensive process where they answer a questionnaire and discuss basic details of the case with the judge and legal teams.
Only those who can remain impartial no matter the circumstances are selected for the jury. If there aren’t enough reliable people in the selection process, then the lawyers will bring in a new batch of people to fill the remaining jury seats.
Hear the Facts
An important role of the jury is to consider only the facts of the case. There are arguments, and statements made during a trial that are stricken from the record. These statements must not be taken into consideration during the deliberation process.
Follow the Law
Jurors aren’t required to go to law school, so a judge will tell them how to interpret complex legal situations. It’s important that jurors stick to the judge’s interpretation of the law and not try to out think the legal teams.
A juror won’t know the important details of the case until the trial begins. This means that jurors can enter a high-profile case that is covered by the media. In situations like this, the jury will not speak with the media or either legal team. If a juror speaks with anyone regarding the case they must notify the rest of the jury, and that juror may be relieved of their duties.
Reach a Verdict
The final role of the jury is to reach a unanimous conclusion based solely on the facts presented during the trial. Any information, or outside sources debated during deliberation is strictly forbidden, and could result in a mistrial.