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FYI – The Justice of Juries

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

In many countries, when someone is accused of a crime, their guilt is decided in court by a group of regular citizens, called a jury. What exactly is a jury and how does the system work?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is a Jury?

A jury is a group of laypersons, regular citizens not qualified in law, who decide cases in court. How juries work varies from place to place — some places have twelve jurors, others more or less; some require a unanimous decision (all the jurors agree) while others accept a majority decision; but the basic principle is the same: Jurors are chosen at random from the general public (often by computer-generated lists based on driving licenses or ID numbers), and called to the courthouse. There, some people will ask to be excused, others may be rejected for various reasons, either by the judge or the lawyers on either side, until the final jury is chosen 

In countries where juries are used, jury duty is usually compulsory, and you can only ask to be excused under special circumstances such as illness. Soldiers are usually excused automatically, as are people over seventy. In most countries, if you do serve as a juror, your employer is not allowed to punish you for not coming to work, and you will be paid expenses for traveling to the courthouse each day, and for snacks to get you through that long trial! 


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