trial by jury | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Trial by jury is a legal process in which a group of individuals, selected from the community, hears evidence and decides on a verdict in a criminal or civil trial.

The right to a trial by jury is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution in criminal cases and is often provided for in civil cases as well. The jury is typically made up of a panel of 12 jurors, who are selected from a pool of eligible citizens and sworn in to serve on the case.

During the trial, the jury is responsible for listening to the evidence presented by both sides, including witness testimony, physical evidence, and legal arguments. The jury is instructed by the judge on the relevant law and is required to apply the law to the facts of the case in order to reach a verdict.

Once the evidence has been presented and the jury has deliberated, they return a verdict of guilty or not guilty in criminal cases or a verdict for the plaintiff or defendant in civil cases. The verdict must be unanimous in criminal cases but may be decided by a majority in civil cases.

The right to a trial by jury is a fundamental principle of the American legal system and is intended to ensure that justice is administered fairly and impartially. Juries are intended to represent a cross-section of the community and are tasked with applying the law to the specific facts of the case at hand.

While the jury system is not without its flaws, it is generally regarded as a crucial component of the American legal system. Juries provide a check on the power of the government and ensure that citizens have a voice in the administration of justice.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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