Friday, August 10, 2018

When You Receive a Jury Summons

So you've received a jury summons in the mail. GREAT! This is your 
chance to serve conscientiously as a fully informed juror. Here's a 
brief rundown of what you need to know to do your best as a trial or 
grand juror. 
1. Be Fully Informed 
As a juror, you have the right to vote your conscience, even if it 
means setting aside the law to conscientiously acquit someone who has 
technically broken the law. 
You cannot legally be punished for or required to change your verdict. 
Though there is no requirement for jurors to deliver a verdict, if 
jurors cannot agree on a verdict, judges may issue what are known as 
"Allen" or "dynamite" charges. These are additional instructions to 
the jury that strongly imply to jurors that they are somehow remiss in 
their duty if they do not reach a verdict. Jurors should not give up 
their conscientiously held beliefs under such pressure. If they cannot 
reach a verdict, the judge will at some point declare 
Judges and prosecutors may try to conceal this right from you. They 
may even openly deny that it exists. Appeals courts have ruled that 
although such denials are false, they also constitute "harmless error" 
for which the higher court provides no relief to the defendant. This 
means that there is no penalty for the government when it falsely 
instructs jurors on the subject, so it is something we expect to 
continue for the foreseeable future. 

1 comment:

OrbsCorbs said...

When I lived in Chicago, I received a jury summons. I knew what they looked like because my wife had received one earlier and they had her traipsing out to Skokie for 5 days. I wrote "Deceased" across the front of my summons and threw it back in the mail. I never heard another word.