So you’re called to jury duty. What a hassle, right? Few people want to do it even though it comes with paid time off. But if you’re selected to serve, you might as well make the best of it. However, few people really understand the role of a juror, how the trial process works, or how to do the job well. Thankfully, attorney Mark Catanzaro and his team come to help. In today’s blog, you’ll find valuable jury duty tips and best practices.
Jury Duty Tips: Your Role
First, let’s understand the role of a juror. If you understand your role, you can perform your duty better. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the court of public opinion reigns. We receive news so fast and so frequently, we feel the need to form opinions about all this information just as quickly. Thus, when some celebrity, politician, or official gets accused of a crime, the public often assumes their guilt almost instinctively. Then, if the court acquits them, we react with consternation and perplexity, assuming the courts must have gotten in wrong.
Granted, while our legal system is far from perfect, it still works far better than impulsive public opinion. Often the tedious and laggard speed of the legal process works in favor of justice. In order to get all the facts, understand all the angles, and reach a conclusion about a case, the legal process must take time. Therefore, as a juror, your role is not to make snap judgments about a defendant, plaintiff, or witness based upon first impressions or incomplete information. Your job is, first and foremost, to consider the facts. And then, make a judgment about them. Your job is not to take the side of the defense or of the prosecution, but the side of truth and justice.
Accordingly, your role in court looks passive rather than active. In other words, you do not actively contend for one side or the other (either out loud or in your mind). Instead, you first passively receive information. Then you make an assessment.
Jury Duty Tips: Best Practices
Second, now that we understand the role, we can look at helpful tips in how to fulfill that role.
- Know the expectations – Make sure you understand what the judge and attorneys expect from you.
- Ask questions – Outside of the trial proceedings, you will be given time to ask the judge or attorneys questions. Take advantage!
- Take notes (if allowed) – Never go by memory alone! If you can take notes during the trial, do so. If not, do what you can to make sure you’re as attentive as possible.
- Honesty is key – During the jury selection process, always answer questions as transparently as possible. If you don’t, this could lead to a mistrial.
- Be thoughtful and restrained – We cannot stress enough the importance of “innocent until proven guilty.” During a trial, the prosecution presents their case first. Then the defense. The best jurors reserve their judgments until both sides have been heard. If you believe the accused is guilty before hearing the defense, then you cannot decide fairly!