Jury trial refers to a legal proceeding, whereby a panel of adjudicators makes decisions that are put into practice by the judges. A jury decides upon dubious issues of fact that can either be in a criminal or civil trial. It is a constitutional right for those charged with criminal and civil offenses to face trial by jury. However, in civil trials the defender and the offender can have a consensus of having a bench trial before a judge. Therefore, it is evidenced that jury trial takes place only in those situations where one side in a civil case, or the accused in a criminal case, have a belief that it is in their best interest.
It also has an effect on the ruling of cases that never go to trial. In jury trial, there are five main steps that are keenly followed. The first step involves the selection of a jury. In this step prospective jurors show up in a courtroom. The defensive and prosecution lawyers together with the attorneys, interview them through a process called voir dire which means to speak the truth. This procedure is aimed at authenticating whether any of the jurors has a secretive interest in the case, a chauvinism or bias that may negatively influence him or her as a juror.
For instance, the defensive lawyer can request to have the juror excused if he or she is afraid of guns. There are two main challenges faced at this stage, challenge for cause and authoritative challenge. Each of the side has the ability to discard a juror capriciously (Denver Criminal Attorney, 2009). Jury selection is completed and an oath is administered for those chosen in a particular case. However, they are lawyers who are specialized in jury selection and they will do excellent in this part of trial.
Secondly, both sides in the case participate in an opening statement. First, the prosecutor gives a brief summary of what the trial is about, the offense that the defendant is being accused of and how they will prove his guilt. Thereafter, defensive attorney gives his opening statement in order to summarize how he will demonstrate his client is above suspicion. However, opening statements are not evidence but are only anticipation of what each side waits for the evidence to prove.
The third step involves presentation of evidence and testimony of witnesses. The prosecutor takes the first step of professing witnesses and presenting various physical facts such as weapons and documents to evidence the defendant’s guilt. There is cross-examination of his witnesses by the defensive lawyers. After the prosecution is done with his presentation, the defense gets the floor and also presents its own witnesses and evidence. The prosecution gets an opportunity to cross-examine defense witnesses too.
Finally, both sides ‘’respite ‘’their case. The fourth step entails closing arguments and presentation of jury instructions. The defense firstly, confirms how the prosecution did not prove its case. The prosecution goes last winding up its case. It is substantiated that the prosecution has the’’ burden of proof’’ and therefore it goes first and also last. The judge interprets the instructions of law to the jurors, defines their responsibilities, what evidence to consider and the law that governs the case. The final step in a jury trial is deliberation.
The jury goes to the deliberation room to judge the case and arrive at a verdict. A foreperson is identified to ensure that every juror is given a fair opportunity to participate. In case of any need for clarification, it is written down and the bailiff presents it to the judge (Morrocco). Finally, when a judgment has been attained, jurors agree to it and sign a form then they alert the bailiff. It is then read by the clerk and the judge discharge the jurors. In a jury trial, the constitution allows for fair and impartial treatment of the accused.
There are several constitutional rights of a defendant during a jury trial. For instance, the defendant has a right to remain silent, confront witnesses, represented by an attorney and also has a right to adequate and sufficient representation. This is mainly practiced in criminal prosecutions. Jury trial is in deed one of the better systems of judgment of single or a panel of judges who have a lot of bias. Every party in a jury trial is mandated to enjoy the right to a detached jury of the center where the crime shall have been committed.
The legal system must use the proper and accurate means of obtaining information and evidence against a suspect (Jury Service). So as to ensure selection of unbiased jury, each of the prospective jurors is ordered an oath to speak the truth. Usually, twelve jurors are selected having two of them being chosen as alternates. Stringent instructions are given as a way to ensure fairness and impartiality as a jury. To maintain the highest standards of fairness in a jury trial, an independent jury must be appointed each year to appraise the application and also select participating juror.