The Jury in a Civil Lawsuit

There is a constitutional right to a jury trial in certain types of civil cases. The jury in a civil lawsuit usually contains 6 to 12 people.

Jury Duty

The names of potential jurors are randomly selected, usually from voter registration lists. Voter qualification questionnaires are mailed to potential jurors, who answer the questions on the forms. Qualified individuals are then summoned to appear for jury duty. Attendance for jury duty is mandatory, and jurors are compensated for their time.

Jury Selection

There is a fundamental right to a trial before an impartial jury. The goal is to select a jury that is representative of the geographical area without regard to race, gender, national original, age, or financial condition. Using a process called voir dire, the judge and the attorneys ask potential jurors about their education, employment, attitudes, and opinions. Potential jurors who appear to be biased or who know someone involved in the case may be excluded from the jury. The attorneys also may exclude a limited number of jurors without giving any reason. The remaining jurors are impaneled and sworn in as the jury.

Jury's Role in Trial

The jury listens to the evidence presented during the trial. The jurors are the triers of fact. After the evidence is presented at trial, the judge gives instructions explaining the law to the jury. The judge's role is to explain the law, and the jury's role is to apply the law to the facts of the case. It is the jury's duty to render a verdict in accordance with instructions given by the court. The jury decides whether the plaintiff's claim against the defendant is true and, if so, what compensation the plaintiff should be awarded.

Jury Deliberations and Verdict

Jury deliberations are held in secret. The jury's verdict does not have to unanimous in civil cases in a majority of the states.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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