Trial Process

Once you report to the Courthouse for Jury Duty you can expect the following to take place:

  1. Oath: The clerk will administer the oath and question will be asked to qualify the person for jury duty.
  2. Jury Selection: the selection of jurors who have taken oath and are qualified to serve as a juror. The process is as follows:
    1. Voir dire (to speak the truth) of the jury panel - The judge introduces the parties to the law suit and the lawyers and asks general questions about your qualifications to sit as a juror on that case.
    2. Opening Statement - The lawyers give their views or opinions of what the proof and evidence will be in the case.
    3. Questioning - The lawyers are allowed to questions jury panel about their qualifications to sit as juror in that case.
    4. Selection - The lawyers are allowed to consult with their clients and select jurors (12 for Circuit Court or six for County Court) and alternates. The lawyers are allowed to excuse ('challenge') a juror for two reasons:
      1. For Cause - knowledge of case
      2. Peremptory - for no reason whatsoever - only allowed four in civil cases and six in criminal cases
  3. Trial: There are six stages of a trial.
    1. Lawyers give opening statements to tell you what they expects to prove.
    2. Evidence of the Plaintiff (or State) normally consisting of testimony of witnesses, and exhibits on which the plaintiff bases its case is presented.
    3. Evidence for the Defendant normally consisting of testimony of witnesses and exhibits in opposition to the Plaintiff's case, and in support of the Defendant's case is presented.
    4. Plaintiff may then offer evidence in rebuttal to deny, or explain defendant's evidence. Sometimes a surrebuttal may be allowed by the Defendant.
    5. Written instructions outlining the law applicable to the issues to be decided by the jury are read by the judge. By law the judge is not allowed to comment on the evidence.
    6. The lawyers on each side make oral arguments to the jury in which they review and analyze the evidence, and give their reasons for claiming the evidence supports their case.
  4. Final Deliberation and Verdict
    1. Civil Cases - to decide the case upon a preponderance of the evidence, and fix the amount of damages to be awarded, if there are damages, and 9 or more jurors may agree upon the verdict
    2. Criminal Cases - to decide if an accused person is guilty, or not guilty of the crime with which the person is charged by a unanimous (all 12 jurors must agree) verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.