In a trial, you have many roles that all go into play within the justice system. There’s a judge, primarily responsible for maintaining order, provide the jury with instructions of the law as it applies to the case and a few other tasks. Another role would be the defendant, there to determine whether or not they are guilty and the main focus of the trial. You also have the plaintiff, the opposite of the defendant and the one pressing charges against the defendant. Then you also have any witnesses, lawyers, court reporters, court interpreters, courtroom clerks and lastly the jury. So what role does the jury play in the court of law?
Instructed by the judge, the jury will sit in a boxed-seat during the trial. The judge will decide the law and based on that, instruct the jury. Although not required in every legal case, the jury plays an extremely important role in the cases in which they are required. Twelve members of the public will form the jury and determine the overall outcome of the case – is the defendant guilty or not guilty? This is typically known as “jury duty” when a random citizen is selected as part of their civic duty.
Facts & Evidence
As facts are presented to the court, the jurors determine the facts of the case. Jurors can take notes on the proceedings. When lawyers, witnesses, and both parties in the trial speak, jurors write down and determine how these facts fit together in order to provide a clear outcome for the trial.
Evidence is provided throughout the trial by numerous people. This could be doctors, police officers, witnesses and more who take the
Limitations & Fairness
To keep a fair trial as well as fairness in the judicial process, the jury’s main job is to decide the final verdict, rather than the judge. Prosecutors determine the charges of a defendant, giving them a great deal of power. However, the jury will decide the case after the prosecutor presents the evidence. As a strength of having a jury in the court of law, not allowing one person to decide the final answer keeps the system just.
One downfall of the jury is that everyday citizens are often asked to understand complicated legal concepts without their personal opinions and emotions blocking their judgement. This could require a lot of time from a citizen, especially in trials that last for multiple months.
The attorney is allowed to reject jurors, with or without causes because jurors often come from the same community as the defendant. However, attorneys can not shape the jury to appear biased in any way. In this, the law attempts to keep a fair and impartial trial.
In the end, the jury must come to a unanimous decision on whether or not the defendant is guilty. As they remain impartial and reside only on the hard facts and evidence, once a jury decides the guilt of a defendant, the case is then sent to a judge for sentencing. In the event that the jury can’t come to an agreement, an “Allen” could allow the case to be tried again, otherwise the case may end in a mistrial.