Best Practices For Proper Jury Ethics

The jury helps the court to see the facts of a case in the context of the vicinity where it is being held and they are expected to maintain certain ethical standards while discharging their duty.
Photo by Saúl Bucio on Unsplash

In an article by the American Bar Association titled, How Courts Work, a jury is defined as “a group of people summoned and sworn to decide on the facts in issue at trial. The jury is composed of people who represent a cross-section of the community.” In American courts and some other countries, the jury system is used in the determination of both criminal and civil cases. 

The jury is charged with the task of determining the facts of a case from the pieces of evidence available. In an article published by Grey Monforton & Partners titled, The Role of the Jury, it was stated that “ a jury is to decide on the facts of the case as they are presented at trial.” An article by the Robert Pahlke Law Group titled, The Role of the Jury in Personal Injury Law, confirmed that “ the role of the jury has been described as being the “finder of facts.” They are the group charged with the duty of sifting through the evidence presented by both sides”

Jury Members

The members of the jury are chosen randomly among a selected population. The selection is made from a list of registered voters and people who have driver’s licenses in a particular district. The people selected then go through a process of selection which helps decide if they are qualified to fulfill jury duties. By the end of the selection process, there will be a representation of people of different views and opinions in the jury. 

In discharging jury functions, there are some ethics that a juror must follow. Woolley (2018) in her article, An Ethical Jury? Reflections on the Acquittal of Gerald Stanley for the Murder/Manslaughter of Colten Boushie stated that “jurors obviously have ethical duties. They exercise a “civic duty” defined by law and discharge a public function within the legal system akin to that of lawyers and judges. We can reasonably claim that they have ethical obligations in relation to their job and that they act wrongfully if they fail to satisfy those obligations.” 

Proper jury etics
Photograph by krakenimages (unsplash.com)

Facts of the case

The first thing the jury must take note of is that they are not in the court to deal with the point of law but the facts of the case. The jury should not get caught up in trying to define the law. In the issue of law, in any case, the jury has the responsibility to get every definition as regards the law from the judge presiding on the case. Therefore, in a situation where the jury is confused based on point of law, the ethical step to take is to ask the judge for the needed clarity.

No social media!

Secondly, the function of the jury is pivotal to a court case, therefore, making it delicate. Given this, the members of the jury have the duty to derive their decision based on the pieces of evidence tendered in the court of law. The jury has to ignore views about the case on social media, TV shows, TV presentations, and other platforms to maintain the sanctity of the case. 

Furthermore, no member of the jury is allowed to take to social media or other platforms to express their views about the case. This is bound to cause controversies and disruption of judicial processes. The views as related to the matter should be aired in the confines of the court where it is required. 

Jurors’ behavior

More so, decorum must be maintained by every member of the jury while in a court sitting. In an article by the National Paralegal College titled, Court Decorum, it was stated that “ decorum is absolutely essential to the administration of Justice.” Because of this, every participant in a case must maintain the required level of decorum. Members of the jury have to be punctual at all times. In the case of an unforeseen event, the appropriate authority should be notified on time. Also, during the court process, every member of the jury must behave orderly and restrain from unseemly reactions. 

Finally, the jury should refrain from inspecting the scene of a crime or an incident unless authorized by the judge. Private inspections are highly frowned upon and may disturb the progress of a case. However, if authorized, the jury should not be scared to inspect the scene as properly as possible to discharge their functions.

In conclusion, it is an honor and a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to serve as a juror. It is therefore important to perform the functions required as best as possible. 

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