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  • A juror is a member of a petit jury or a grand jury.

    Note that in some jurisdictions there is legal dispute over whether those called for jury duty are considered jurors, even though they have not been selected to serve nor sworn as a member of a jury. On this website, we refer to sworn members of a jury as jurors while we refer to those who are summoned for jury duty but not sworn as a member of a jury as prospective jurors or potential jurors.

Juror Summons, Jury Summons

  • When a court selects a pool of people to report for jury duty, they notify each of those people with a juror summons. Typically sent by mail, a juror summons commands the person to whom it is sent to report at a specific place and time for possible service on a grand jury or petit jury. Reporting for duty as specified in the juror summons is mandatory. Ignoring a juror summons puts and individual at risk for legal penalties.


  • A jury is a group of people, called jurors, who have been chosen from the general public to decide on various legal matters.

    A grand jury decides whether or not to issue an indictment in a criminal manner.

    A petit jury in a criminal case is tasked with deciding whether the accused is not guilty or guilty of each charge. Additionally, in a capital case in which the accused is convicted of a capital crime, the jury is also tasked with deciding whether the defendant will receive the death penalty or be sentenced to life without parole. Some juries in less serious criminal cases also have sentencing authority.

    A petit jury in a civil case finds either for the plaintiff or the defendant. It is also responsible for determining the amount of damages to be awarded or deciding other matters depending on what is at issue in the case.

Jury Equity

Jury Nullification

  • In its strictest sense, jury nullification occurs when a jury returns a not guilty verdict, even though jurors believe it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the charged offense(s). Because the not guilty verdict cannot be overturned, and because the jurors cannot be punished for their verdicts, the law is said to be nullified in that particular case. On this website, we often refer to this as conscientious acquittal.

    This differs from a regular acquittal, which is what happens when jurors find the accused not guilty because the prosecution has FAILED to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the charged offense(s).

    The term is more loosely used to include a variety of related concepts. The most common such use is including under the umbrella of jury nullification a mistrial that results when a minority of jurors hang a jury with their not guilty votes even though they believe it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the charged offense(s). When there is a mistrial due to a hung jury, the prosecution may or may not retry the case in the future, but the law can be said to have at least been nullified in the trial at hand.

    Jury nullification has also been used very informally to include a case where a jury couldn't even be seated because so many people report during voir dire that they would not convict someone for the offense charged (a misdemeanor for possession of a tiny amount of marijuana).

    In capital cases, jury nullification may be used to describe the sentencing phase of the trial when jurors find a defendant who they have convicted eligible for the death penalty under the sentencing guidelines, but still conscientiously choose to spare them by sentencing them to life without parole instead.

    See conscientious acquittal.

Jury of Peers

  • In the United States, a jury of one's peers simply means a jury drawn from a pool consisting of a fair cross-section of the citizens of the jurisdiction. It does not mean that jurors must be of the same sex, race, religion, age group, political leanings, profession, etc. as the person who is accused.

Jury Selection

Jury Trial

Jury Veto, Juror Veto

Jury Wheel

  • Originally, the term jury wheel referred to a physically revolving device containing the names of prospective jurors. Names would be drawn at random from the container to determine who would be summoned for jury duty. Now that we are living in the Digital Era, the term is often used to include electronic data processing systems designed and used for the same purpose.



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