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Home > Jury Service: Things to Know

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT JURY SERVICE


INTRODUCTION

You have been summoned to render important service as a juror. Jury service is an important public duty which individual members of the public are chosen at random to undertake.

During your service you will be an essential part of the administration of justice in our Island. You will be called upon to return verdicts in respect of your peers. Those verdicts must be based upon the evidence as you hear it in court and upon the law as directed by the Judge. You will be told, and you must remember, that you are the judges of the FACTS.

If selected to sit as a juror on a case, you will serve until that case is completed.

You must report to the court on the date and at the hour stated in your summons or as directed by the Judge.

When you are assigned to a court, a Marshal of the Court and/or a Legal Assistant of the Registration Office will direct and assist you. These persons will be on duty in the court whenever it is in session.

PAYMENT FOR SERVICE
You will receive a fee for each day of service.

TYPES OF TRIAL
The cases which you will adjudicate are called ‘indictable’ cases. That is to say they are tried by a Judge and jury. The cases are brought in the name of the Queen and are prosecuted by Counsel of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

SELECTION OF JURORS
At the start of a case, names of jurors will be selected at random by the Clerk of the Court and you will rise and go towards the jury box when your name is called by the Clerk of the Court. Either the prosecution or the defence may object to your sitting on the panel. The prosecutor may say “Stand By”; the defence may say “Challenge”. In such a case, you do not take your seat in the jury box.

If there is no objection to your sitting, proceed immediately and take your seat in the jury box. A ‘challenge’ or ‘stand by’ is not to be interpreted as a reflection on a juror. Indeed, the defence is allowed to challenge up to 7 jurors without giving a reason.

If you know any of the parties involved in a case, you should inform the Judge.

CHOICE OF FOREMAN

When the full number of jurors has been chosen for a case, you will be asked to select a foreman. The foreman is an important person. For example, it is the foreman who will speak on behalf of the whole panel and who can ask the judge for assistance on behalf of the whole jury if you need assistance during your deliberations.

In selecting a foreman you must bear in mind that he/she should be a self confident person.

The foreman ensures that:

  • Discussion is carried out in a sensible and orderly manner;
  • The issues are discussed fully and fairly;
  • Every juror has a chance to express a view;
  • By reasoning together you arrive at a common decision.

PROCEDURE DURING THE TRIAL

    1. When a full panel of jurors has been chosen, you will all be sworn “to well and truly try the several cases joined between the Queen and the accused and a true verdict give according to the evidence”.
    2. After the jury has been sworn, the prosecutor reads the charge, outlines the nature of the case and gives some insight into the evidence that will be called to support the prosecution’s case. This is referred to as the “Opening Address’.
    3. Upon completion of that opening address, the prosecutor will call witnesses in support of his/her case. Each witness will be:
      • examined in chief;
      • cross-examined by the accused or his Attorney-at-Law, if thought necessary;
      • re-examined by the prosecutor, if thought necessary.
    4. When the prosecutor has called all of his/her witnesses, he/she will CLOSE the case for the Crown.
    5. The rights of the accused will then be read to him/her. He/she may remain silent; may give unsworn evidence from the dock or may give evidence from the witness stand. Which of those options is pursued is entirely a matter for the accused or his/her counsel.
    6. In any event, an accused may call witnesses.
    7. If the accused calls witnesses, they will be examined, cross-examined and re-examined.
    8. Upon conclusion of the evidence for the accused, he/she will close the case for the Defence.

FINAL ADDRESS

    1. Final Addresses will then follow. The prosecutor will make his final address, followed by the accused or his Attorney-at-Law.

THE SUMMATION

    1. After the addresses, the Judge will sum up the entire case to the jury. It is important that you listen to the judge carefully because he will give you directions on the LAW which you must follow and he will remind you of the facts and assist you in analyzing them.
    2. However, you are to decide the FACTS and you must seek to determine the truth.

RETIREMENT AND VERDICT

  1. When the summation has been completed, the Judge will invite you to retire and consider your verdict. Discussion should never be so loud that it can be heard outside of the jury room. No one outside should know what goes on in the jury room. You must try to reach a unanimous verdict in the first place. If you are unable to come to such a verdict, you should let the Marshal know that you wish to have the assistance of the Judge. In some cases, the Judge may himself send for you if you are taking a very long time to reach a verdict.
  2. Make sure that the foreman returns the correct verdict as agreed by you. If he/she reports a verdict which is incorrect, rise to your feet and tell the judge that the verdict is NOT correct.

ASSISTANCE FROM THE JUDGE
If the jury has difficulty with any issue and wishes assistance, the foreman should tell the Marshal. The foreman should NEVER indicate which of the jurors is having difficulty. He should ask the judge for assistance on particular matters, for example, the evidence of
particular witnesses or law or whatever. It may be best for the foreman to write down the particular problem and pass a note to the judge.

GENERAL RULES OF CONDUCT

  • Be punctual;
  • Listen carefully to the evidence of the witness for both sides because you must give your verdict according to what you hear in court. If you do not hear a question or an answer, raise your hand and ask for it to be repeated;
  • Study and observe the demeanour and behaviour of witnesses. It will help you to determine what facts you find.
  • Listen carefully to Counsel on both sides;
  • You are free to make notes for your own benefit;
  • Do not discuss the case with anyone while you are in panel;
  • If anyone (not on the jury) attempts to talk to you about the case or to influence your verdict, you must report it to the judge immediately;
  • Control your emotions during the trial so that you do not betray how the evidence or incident affects you;
  • If you are in doubt about your rights or duties as a juror, you should ask the judge, preferably through the foreman.