The first day that jurors are summoned is jury selection day and they should plan to be in court the entire afternoon. If you are selected to sit as a juror on a case, you will be notified of the date to return for trial. Not all jurors summoned will be selected to sit as jurors for a trial. You may be selected to serve as a juror for up to two cases.
On jury selection day, when you arrive at the courthouse, you need to report to the second floor of the 54B District Court, 101 Linden St. The jury clerk will check you in and will direct you to the courtroom. Before the selection of jurors begins, a court representative will provide a short orientation on our jury process and a district judge will read the required jury instructions. You will then be asked to swear or affirm that you will truthfully answer the questions concerning your fairness and ability to sit as a juror on a particular case by the judge.
Judge / Trial Attorney Questioning
As a prospective juror, the judge or trial attorneys will question you. The preliminary examination into the qualifications and potential biases of prospective jurors is called Voir Dire (from French meaning, "to speak the truth"). This process is conducted to determine whether you have opinions or attitudes, which would bias you in favor or disfavor of either side. While some questions may be personal in nature, they are not intended to embarrass you. They are asked to determine if there is a reason you should not sit on the case.
Challenge for Cause
The prosecution or defendant may ask that a member of the jury panel be excused because there appears to be a specific reason, set out in the Court Rule, that one is not legally qualified to act as a juror in this case. This is called a challenge for cause. An example of this is if the juror has a personal or financial relationship with a party. In addition, each side may excuse a limited number of jurors by peremptory challenge. A peremptory challenge is the right of the prosecution or defendant to remove a certain number of jurors without giving any reason or cause.
If you are excused either for cause or because of a peremptory challenge, you should not take it personally or be offended. You may still be selected to sit on another jury. If you are selected to be on a jury, you will be given the date and time of the trial.
Seven jurors will be chosen. One person is an alternate juror in case someone cannot complete the trial. Before deliberations one juror will be dismissed from the panel.