Jury Duty

Department Overview

How a Jury is Chosen

After you have reported for jury duty, the jury panel is sent to the courtroom for jury selection. A jury of twelve people will be selected for felony trials, and six people for gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, and civil trials. The judge in the courtroom will explain the case and introduce the lawyers and other participants. As part of jury selection, the judge and lawyers will then question the jury panel members to determine if anyone has knowledge of the case, a personal interest in it, or any feelings that might make it hard to be impartial. This process is called “voir dire”, a phrase meaning “to speak the truth”.

Questions asked during voir dire may seem personal but should be answered completely and honestly. The questions are not intended to embarrass anyone but are used to make sure that members of the jury do not have opinions or past experiences, which might prevent reaching an impartial decision.

 

Challenges

During voir dire the lawyers may ask the judge to excuse a juror from sitting on the case. This is called “challenging a juror”. There are two types of challenges: a challenge for cause and a peremptory challenge.

A challenge for cause means the lawyer has a specific reason for thinking that a juror would not be able to be impartial. For example, the case may involve a driving under the influence of alcohol. If a juror had been in an accident with a drunk driver and was still upset about it, the defense attorney could ask that the juror be excused for that reason. There is no limit to the number of jurors who may be excused for cause.

Peremptory challenges do not require the lawyers to state any reason for excusing a juror. Peremptory challenges are intended to allow lawyers, both prosecution and defense, to do their best to assure that the trial is fair.

 

Reporting For Duty

Call in Procedure

Rice County has a “call in” system to inform jurors when their services will be required. The jury tape runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instructions and the call in phone number are included in the jury questionnaire packet jurors receive in the mail.

 

Where to Report

First day jurors are instructed what time to report on the jury call in line. On subsequent days, jurors will be advised what time to report. Please be prompt. One late juror can waste the time of the many persons involved in a trial. Generally, your service day will be completed between 4:30 – 5:00 P.M.

 

Cell Phones/Pagers

Cell phones and pagers are not allowed in the courtrooms or in the jury room during deliberations. All cell phones and pagers will be required to be checked with the jury bailiffs or the Court Administrator’s office.

 

What to bring

Jury service can entail some waiting time in the Jury Assembly Room, while you wait for assignment to the courtroom. You may want to bring reading materials, stationary, etc.

 

Order of Events in a Trial

After a jury is selected, the trial will generally follow this order of events:

 

Opening Statements

The lawyers for each side may explain the case, the evidence they will present, and the issues for the jury to decide.

 

Presentation of Evidence

The evidence consists of the testimony of witnesses and the exhibits allowed by the judge. Exhibits admitted into evidence will be available to the jury for examination during deliberations. The jury will be asked to make decisions regarding disputed facts; therefore, jurors attention at all times is critically important. Juror note taking, or the use of any notes will be determined by the judge.

 

Rulings by the Judge

The judge may be asked to decide questions of law during the trial. Occasionally, the judge may ask jurors to leave the courtroom while the lawyers make their legal arguments. The jurors should understand that such interruptions are needed to make sure that their verdict is based upon proper evidence, as determined by the judge under the Rules of Evidence. Jurors may give the evidence whatever weight they consider appropriate.

 

Closing Arguments

At the close of all the evidence, the lawyers have the opportunity to summarize the evidence in their closing arguments and attempt to persuade the jury to accept a view of the case.

 

Instructions to the Jury

After closing arguments, the judge will read the instructions to the jury explaining the law and other considerations in the case.

 

Deliberations

After instructions, the jury is isolated to decide the verdict in the case.

 

Directions

See the address and what the courthouse looks like at Rice County Locations and Hours.

Click on the Rice County Quick Links Maps to find maps of Faribault.
 

Jury Check-in

Rice County Courthouse
218 NW 3rd St., 3rd Floor
Faribault, MN 55021

Jury Office Phone Number
507-332-6191 or 507-332-6107