Unit VIII. Fair trial: the Jury Service

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Text 1: "Jury Service"

Task 1: read and translate the text

Jury service is one of the most important duties you can perform. The protection of rights and liberties in federal courts largely is achieved through the teamwork of judge and jury. You do not need any knowledge of the legal system to be a juror.

There are two types of juries in the federal trial courts: trial juries (also known as petit juries), and grand juries.

Petit (Trial) Jury

A civil petit jury is typically made up of 6 to 12 persons. In a civil case, the role of the jury is to listen to the evidence presented at a trial, to decide whether the defendant injured the plaintiff or otherwise failed to fulfil a legal duty to the plaintiff, and to determine what the compensation or penalty should be. A criminal petit jury is usually made up of 12 members. Criminal juries decide whether the defendant committed the crime as charged. The sentence usually is set by a judge. Verdicts in both civil and criminal cases must be unanimous, although the parties in a civil case may agree to a non-unanimous verdict. A jury's deliberations are conducted in private, out of sight and hearing of the judge, litigants, witnesses, and others in the courtroom.

Grand Jury

A grand jury, which normally consists of 16 to 23 members, has a more specialized function. The United States attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence to the grand jury for them to determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not open for public observation.

Selection of Jurors

Potential jurors are chosen from a jury pool generated by random selection of citizens' names from lists of registered voters, or combined lists of voters and people with driving licences, in the judicial district. The potential jurors complete questionnaires to help determine whether they can serve on a jury. After reviewing the questionnaires, the court randomly selects individuals to be summoned to appear for jury duty. These selection methods help ensure that jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age or political affiliation.

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