During the Trial

There are some common-sense rules jurors must follow to assure fairness to all parties. The judge will review them with you before testimony begins. Here are some of the more important ones:

Discussing the Case

Your decision as a juror must be based only on the evidence admitted during the trial. Evidence is the testimony of witnesses, the exhibits, and any stipulations.

Accordingly, you should not talk about the case during the trial with anyone - family members, friends, strangers, attorneys, witnesses, even other jurors - nor should you remain in the presence of others who are discussing it.

If anyone tries to talk to you about the case, say that you are a juror and cannot discuss it. If the person persists, report it to the judge at the first opportunity. When the trial is over, you may, if you wish, discuss the case with anyone.

Newspaper / Radio / Television Reports

For the same reason, you should not read, watch or listen to news reports about the trial. However careful and conscientious reporters and editors may be, news reports about the trial will inevitably be incomplete, and they could be incorrect, and the parties in court are unable to respond.

Visiting the Scene

Don't do it. It may seem like a good idea for instance, to go out to the corner where an accident took place and see for yourself. But it isn't. Conditions may have changed or there may be other factors you don't know about. You could come away with an incomplete or mistaken impression of the situation and because the lawyers don't know you were there, they have no opportunity to show you the mistake.

If either party thinks that it would help for the jury to inspect the scene, the judge will send you there as a group, under the court's supervision. Any independent visit by jurors could cause a mistrial,which means that the trial is cut off and the case will have to be retried.

Jury Secrecy

Until the jury begins its deliberations, all trial proceedings are public. The jurors however, deliberate in a jury room with no one present but themselves. Each juror must feel free to say whatever he or she thinks about the testimony and evidence, or the witnesses, or the lawyers' statements and arguments, without fear that any of it will be repeated outside the jury room.

Without that assurance there may not be the full and frank discussion needed for the jury to reach a fair verdict.