Jury Selection Information

Yes. The parties involved in a case generally seek to settle their differences and avoid the expense and time of a trial. Sometimes the case is settled just a few moments before the trial begins. So even though several trials are scheduled for a certain day, the court doesn't know until that morning how many will actually go to trial. But your time spent waiting is not wasted - your very presence in the court encourages settlement.

When a trial is ready to begin, the bailiff calls potential jurors into the courtroom. If damages of less than $10,000 are claimed in the case, 11 jurors will be called. If damages of more than $10,000 are claimed, 13 jurors will be called. The clerk or bailiff asks the potential jurors to stand, hold up their right hands, and swear or affirm they will truthfully answer the questions about to be asked of them. The judge will then tell you the names of the parties and their attorneys and briefly explain the nature of the case.

The judge will ask if you are related to anyone involved in the case, have any financial or other interest in the outcome of the case, have formed or expressed an opinion or have any personal bias or prejudice affecting how you might decide the case. If you don't think you can make a fair and impartial decision for any reason, you should tell the judge at this time.

The attorneys for each side might also ask you some questions. If the judge concludes you may not be able to make a fair decision, you will be asked to step down, and another prospective juror will be brought in to replace you. After the judge decides all potential jurors are qualified to fairly and impartially hear the case, the clerk will compile a list of jurors and give it to the attorneys. Each side will remove 3 names from the list. They do not have to give reasons for removing these names. If the amount claimed is under $10,000, the final jury will have 5 members. If it is more than $10,000, the jury will have 7 members. The remaining jurors then swear they will hear the case and give a verdict they believe to be true. The trial is ready to begin.

Allowing both sides to participate in selecting the jury gives the parties the opportunity to feel the jury will be fair and impartial when it decides the case. Being excused from a jury in no way reflects on your character or your competence as a juror, so you should not feel offended or embarrassed if your name is removed.
The procedure for criminal cases is very similar to the procedure for civil cases. However, 20 prospective jurors are called for a felony trial, and the final jury will have 12 members. For a misdemeanor case, the final jury will have 7 members.
Sometimes, when the judge believes a case is likely to last for more than a day or 2, additional jurors will be chosen from those summoned for jury duty, questioned and challenged like other prospective jurors. The additional jurors are chosen to avoid having to retry the case should 1 or more jurors be excused from the jury during the trial for an emergency (such as illness), leaving too few jurors to decide the case. Throughout the trial, all jurors will sit together, paying careful attention to all the evidence. After closing argument, and before the jury retires to the jury room to decide the case, the judge will excuse from further jury duty enough jurors to reduce the number of jurors to the statutory number needed to decide the case.