US District Court • Southern District of New York

Handbook for Trial Jurors

Serving the United States District Court

Purpose of This Handbook

Importance of Jury Service

The Courts

The Criminal Case

The Civil Case

The Voir Dire Examination

The Jurors' Solemn Oath

The Eight Stages of Trial

The Arguments of Counsel

The Charge to the Jury

The Jury’s Verdict

Courtroom Etiquette

Conduct of the Jury during the Trial

In the Jury Room

After the Trial


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In the Jury Room

In some districts the judge selects the foreperson of the jury. In other districts the jurors elect their foreperson and in still other districts the first juror to enter the jury box becomes the foreperson automatically. The judge will inform jurors which method is used in the district.

The foreperson presides over the jury’s deliberations and must give every juror a fair opportunity to express his or her views.

Jurors must enter the discussion with open minds. They should freely exchange views. They should not hesitate to change their opinions if the deliberations have convinced them they were wrong initially.

In a criminal case all jurors must agree on the verdict. This is also required in a civil case, unless the jury is otherwise instructed by the court.

The jurors have a duty to give full consideration to the opinion of their fellow jurors. They have an obligation to reach a verdict whenever possible. However, no juror is required to give up any opinion which he or she is convinced is correct.

It would be dishonest for a judge to decide a case by tossing a coin. It would be just as dishonest for a juror to do so.

The members of the jury are sworn to pass judgment on the facts in a particular case. They have no concern beyond that case. They violate their oath if they render their decision on the basis of the effect their verdict may have on other situations.