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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The Civil Case

The following is an example of the kind of civil case jurors in a United States District Court will help decide.

Let us call the case John Smith v. XY Company. This means that John Smith has filed a case against the XY Company.

John Smith is called the plaintiff, the person who begins the case. The XY Company is the defendant. The plaintiff and the defendant are the parties.

The plaintiff, John Smith, states his claim in a paper called the complaint. The defendant, XY Company, replies to the complaint in a paper called the answer. The complaint and the answer are the main pleadings in the case. The points in the pleadings upon which the parties disagree make up the issues of fact and law. Sometimes these issues are set forth in a pre-trial order. This is an order drawn up by the judge after consulting with the attorneys for the parties.