Discussion - Role of the Trial Jury - INFORMATION ONLY.docx

68 there has been much debate about the advantages

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disapproval of special interrogatories even in civil cases. [68] There has been much debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the jury system, the competence or lack thereof of jurors as fact-finders, and the uniformity or capriciousness of the justice they administer. [69] The jury has been described by one author as "an exciting and gallant experiment in the conduct of serious human affairs". [70] Because they are fact-finders, juries are sometimes expected to perform 6
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a role similar to a lie detector , especially when presented with testimony from witnesses. [71] A civil jury is typically made up of 6 to 12 persons. In a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfill a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or penalty should be. A criminal jury is usually made up of 12 members, though fewer may sit on cases involving lesser offenses. Criminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence may be set by either the jury or the judge; generally, in felony cases the jury sets punishment while in lesser offenses it may be set by the judge. Verdicts in criminal cases must be unanimous, with the following exceptions: Currently, two states, Oregon and Louisiana, do not require unanimous verdicts in criminal cases. Each requires a 10–2 majority for conviction, except for capital crimes: Oregon requires unanimous verdicts for guilty to any murder case and Louisiana requires all 12. But in Oregon, unlike any other state, a Not Guilty verdict may be reached in any case (murder included) by a vote of 10 to 2 or 11 to 1. In civil cases, the law (or the agreement of the parties) may permit a non- unanimous verdict. 7
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A jury's deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom. [72] Not every case is eligible for a jury trial. In the majority of U.S. states, there is no right to a jury trial in family law actions not involving a termination of parental rights, such as divorce and custody modifications. [73] [74] Only eleven states allow juries in any aspect of divorce litigation (Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin). [73] Most of these limit the right to a jury to try issues regarding grounds or entitlement for divorce only. Texas provides jury trial rights most broadly, including even the right to a jury trial on questions regarding child custody. [73] [74] However, anyone who is charged with a criminal offense, breach of contract or federal offence has a Constitutional right to a trial by jury. 8
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  • Spring '19
  • jury trials

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