St. Louis County Jury Information
Conduct During a Trial
There are certain rules that a juror should follow throughout the trial in order to be fair to all sides.
Follow the Court’s Instructions
The judge will instruct the jury on the law as it applies to the case you are hearing. A written copy of the instructions will be given to the jury at the close of the case to help the deliberations. It is very important that these instructions be read and followed by each member of the jury. Further, during trial and before breaks in the trial, the judge will read instructions to the jury which must also be followed by the jury.
It is extremely important that jurors not be late in reporting for duty. A late juror wastes the time of all the other jurors, the judge, the parties, the lawyers and witnesses. A lawyer, witness, or juror may be fined for contempt of court for being tardy. It is also important to appear in court until you are released from service. If you have been summoned as a juror or selected to sit on a case, it is of the utmost importance that you return promptly at the conclusion of any breaks or the start of a day.
Radio, Television, Newspaper Reports and Independent Investigations
In order to keep an open mind, jurors should not listen to radio, TV or read articles about the trial. News sources sometimes give a biased or unbalanced view of the case. No juror may visit the location of the crime or accident. No juror may seek to do any independent investigation. No juror may talk to a lawyer about the facts of a case you are hearing. All information about the case must come from the evidence at trial and the jury must base their decision on that evidence and not from outside sources.
Discussing the Case
During the trial, jurors should not talk about the case with each other, other persons, or allow other people to talk about it in their presence. If anyone should insist upon talking about the case to you, tell them that you are on the jury and cannot discuss the case. If the person continues to insist, you should ask for their name and report the matter to the judge at the first opportunity.
Talking With the Parties or Lawyers
Do not talk with parties, witnesses, or lawyers during a trial. Any conversation with these individuals can create the perception of unfairness even if the conversation was unrelated to the case.
Selecting a Foreperson
At the close of the case when you retire to the jury deliberation room, your first duty will be to select a foreperson. It is the foreperson’s duty to ensure that the deliberations are conducted in a sensible and orderly fashion, the issues submitted for decisions are fully and fairly discussed, and that all jurors have a chance to participate in the process. The foreperson also takes and counts votes for the jury.
The discussions and verdict should not be known to anyone outside the jury room until your verdict has been read in court and accepted by the judge. The judge will instruct you as to when you can discuss the case with parties, lawyers, reporters or anyone else you wish. However, until you have been released from service and/or so instructed by the judge, you must keep the proceedings a secret.
The verdict must be in writing on a form provided by the judge. The jury and foreperson must make sure the forms are properly completed before the verdict is announced in court. The verdict in some cases is the most important event in the life of someone and it may be very important to our community as a whole. Therefore, you should take your duty as a juror very seriously and do the best job you possibly can to act fairly and impartially.