You have been selected for service on a traverse jury. A traverse jury is a trial jury — a jury impaneled to try an action or prosecution, as distinguished from a grand jury which reviews evidence submitted by the prosecutor and determines whether a person should be charged with a crime (indictment).
There is no more valuable service citizens can perform than to aid their community by serving as a juror. The principle that a person has a right to be judged by a jury of peers dates back to England in the Middle Ages and is guaranteed by our Federal and State Constitutions. By serving as a juror you are helping to preserve a fundamental right, to protect that right so it will be a safeguard for all persons, including yourself, should you someday find your property, liberty or life endangered. Give your service as a juror the same attention that you would like from a juror if you were a party involved in the trial.
Serving on a jury is hard work. The hours are long and the pay is less than you would receive from an employer. There may be periods of waiting and you may become impatient. However, you should not allow such periods to overshadow the importance of your jury service.
The mere presence of a jury and the knowledge that the trial time is nearing encourages parties to engage in settlement talks. Thus, even though a full court day has been scheduled, many or all of the cases may be settled at the courthouse before trial and the jury may be kept waiting. These settlements are of benefit. Many could not be achieved without the presence of the jury.
The purpose of this handbook is to explain what you will do as a juror. The explanation is intended to help you feel more comfortable and to do a better job. When you are chosen as a juror, the judge will give you instructions that apply in the particular case. This handbook is not meant to and does not take the place of those instructions. This handbook answers questions a person is likely to ask when first reporting for jury duty. As you read, you will notice certain words are underlined. These words are defined in definition of terms section.