Will I definitely sit in on a trial when I perform jury duty?

Your name may never be drawn for a trial. There are many factors involved in selecting a jury for a case, and it may be that you are never actually called upon to deliberate a case. It is also possible that you will be selected to deliberate multiple cases. When you check in with the court at roll call on the first day, you become part of a general jury pool.

The selection of jurors is the first step in the actual trial of a jury case and the first step of this selection process is called "voir dire" (a full definition of "voir dire" is given above). The judge will first explain what the case is about in general terms, and state the names of the parties involved, and their attorneys. The judge may then begin questioning the jurors. Some questions will be directed to all the jurors present, and others may be directed to individual jurors. If a prospective juror is not found to be legally qualified to act as a juror, he/she may be excused "for cause," by either the judge or one of the attorneys.

After the conclusion of voir dire, the attorneys have the right to exercise a certain number of "peremptory challenges". This means that the attorney may excuse a juror without having to state a specific reason. Jurors who are challenged and thereby excused from the trial should not be offended, as each attorney has a different idea as to the type of juror that would be most beneficial to the trial of the case. Following all peremptory challenges, the jury selection process is concluded, and the jury is sworn in. Persons excused generally return to the juror’s waiting area where they may be called for selection on another jury.

Show All Answers

1. How long do I have to serve?
2. My summons says I am to report to the Court of General Sessions (or Common Pleas). What's the difference?
3. What's the difference between hearing a civil or criminal case?
4. How should I dress?
5. What can I bring with me to the Judicial Center?
6. Is there any special "courtroom etiquette" I should be aware of?
7. What is "roll call?"
8. What does the term "voir dire" mean?
9. Will I definitely sit in on a trial when I perform jury duty?