Jury Trials

A jury trial (or trial by jury) is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge.  The U.S. Constitution recognizes the right to jury trial as a civil right which gives the accused an option in choosing whether to be judged by judges or a jury.  It is protected under Art III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution which states that trial of all crimes, except impeachment shall be by jury and be held in the state where the crimes have been committed.  The right was expanded with the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states in part, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”  Both provisions were made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

Different stages in a jury trial are selection of a jury, the trial, Judge’s charge to the jury, jury deliberation and verdict.  After the jury is chosen and sworn in, the parties give arguments and evidence.  The jury then deliberates and when it reaches a decision, it announces the verdict.  The right to trial by jury in a civil case is addressed in the 7th Amendment which says if the value of controversy exists more than twenty dollars the right of trial jury will be preserved for suits at common law.  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38 also allows a party to demand a jury trial. In the U.S., juries have usually been composed of 12 jurors.  However, in many jurisdictions, the number of jurors is often reduced to a lesser number by legislative enactment, or by agreement of both sides.

Inside Jury Trials