A short time ago I wrote about what to do and where to go if you were summoned for jury duty. Today, we will consider the role of a jury during a trial.
The first thing to remember is that a juror needs no knowledge of the law. In fact, people who have knowledge of the law, such as lawyers, are not eligible to be chosen as jurors.
A jurors job is to decide on the facts of the case as they are presented at trial. During the trial, each side will attempt to prove their version of the facts of the case by using evidence.
Witnesses who saw or heard something relevant are usually used to prove facts. Evidence can also include documents and photographs.
Deciding on the facts of the case is not always a simple task. A trial usually takes place many months, or even years, after the events took place. Many witnesses will have trouble remembering exactly what they heard. Even when they have not forgotten, and are being honest, it is amazing how two people can see the same thing and have different recollections of what took place.
The jury receives its direction from the judge. A jury will hear all the evidence during a trial. If the judge is unsure whether certain evidence is proper, the jury may be asked to leave while the judge hears arguments about whether certain evidence can be admitted.
At the end of the trial, the judge will instruct the jury on the legal results, which must follow the different possible finding fact. After being given these final instructions, the jury will retire to a separate room and decide the case.
From this point on, the jury members are not allowed to talk to anyone until a decision has been reached. The only exceptions are the judge and perhaps a court official that might be asked to get the judge.
In a criminal trial, all 12 jury members must agree on a decision. In a civil trial, five of the six members must agree. Once a decision is reached it will be presented in court by the foreman of the jury (a person selected by the other jury members).
Regardless of the trial you are involved with, your time on a jury should prove interesting. You get an inside look at the Canadian Justice System in action.
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