Trials, Basic Trial Procedure & Common Crimes

From: Legal Language

By almost any measure, the United States is the most litigious country in the world. If you ever find yourself in the position of being involved in a trial, you should make sure you know what will be involved. Therefore, Legal Language Services has provided you with information to give you a general overview on the United States’ court and trial systems.

Legal Language Services can translate any documents or transcribe any tape or digital media you may need for evidence in your trial. LLS can also certify our translations and transcriptions so they will be acceptable for submission in any trial in the United States or abroad.

With the complicated legal system the United States has, you should always make sure to have an attorney to help navigate the loopholes and legalese you will no doubt encounter. If you need to find an attorney for an upcoming trial or legal question, you can search Legal Language Services’ extensive attorney database for FREE to locate one in your area.

Types of Trials

There are many kinds of trials that take place in United States courtrooms every day. All trial types, however, can be categorized into 4 different case types: civil, criminal, juvenile and traffic.

  • Civil Case – A trial that consists of a disagreement between two or more people or businesses. Examples: disputes between a landlord and tenant, divorce actions, small claims cases and a case where one person is suing another for damages.
  • Criminal Case – A trial involving a person who has been accused of committing either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
  • Juvenile Case – A trial that usually involves a minor who is under the age of seventeen. Juvenile cases are heard by the family division of the circuit court. There are three types of juvenile cases: juvenile delinquency, child protective hearings and traffic cases.
  • Traffic Case – This is the most common type of trial, related to a traffic violation. A traffic violation can be considered either a civil infraction or a misdemeanor.

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How the Jury “Calculates” Your Personal Injury Award

From: All Law

How does a jury come up with its award when a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial? What goes on in the deliberation room? In order to make its decision, the jurors have to review the evidence that was presented in the trial, and consider the law that applies to the case. Read on to learn more about the jury deliberation and award process.

Reviewing the Evidence in an Injury Case

Most jurors pay reasonably close attention to the evidence during the trial. Most courts now allow jurors to take notes during the trial.

But when they begin their deliberations in the jury room after the trial, jurors will usually review the evidence quite closely with each other. They cannot have a transcript of the testimony; they must rely on their memories and their notes, but they are allowed to have all of the trial exhibits with them. They will usually discuss the evidence until they are all satisfied that they have a good handle on how the accident happened.

In an easy case, that could take less than an hour, but, in a more complex case, that could take days. After they have figured out the facts, the jurors will turn to the law.

Applying the Law: Jury Instructions vs. Emotional Appeal

Judges give juries lengthy jury instructions. They generally give these instructions at the end of the trial, but some judges give some of the instructions at the beginning or in the middle of the trial. All judges give their instructions orally, but many judges now also give a copy of the instructions to the jurors in writing.

The instructions cover every aspect of the jury’s deliberations. They explain how the jurors should deliberate, how they should analyze the witnesses and the evidence, and then explain the law of the case in detail.

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Juror Summons Law and Legal Definition

From: US Legal

Some insightful information on Juror Summons.

A juror summons is a process issued by the court commanding the appearance of an individual to attend and be available for duty on a petit or grand jury at a specified place, time, and date.

Appearance for jury duty is mandatory unless the potential juror is excused from appearing. The U.S. Constitution and all state constitutions guarantee its citizens the right to a jury trial in both civil and criminal cases. A person who fails to respond to a jury summons may be subject to a contempt of court citation. The person may also have to serve a short jail sentence or pay fines.

Jurors are selected on a random basis from state departments of motor vehicles and voter registration lists. Any person who is 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen, and is not a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored may be selected for jury duty.

A jury summons will indicate which court is demanding the citizen’s presence and the date on which the person is required to appear. Generally, a jury summons is sent by mail. However, the serving process, and the contents to be included in the summons may vary from state to state

The following is an example of a state statute (Colorado) relating to juror summons:

C.R.S. 13-71-111. Contents of juror summons.

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Why Jury Trials are Important to a Democratic Society

From: Judges

1. The American jury trial is a constitutional right. The founding fathers believed
that the right to be tried by a jury of your peers was so important that it merited inclusion in
the highest law of the land. Amendments 6 and 7 of the Bill of Rights contain this right:

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses
in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and
no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

2. The jury trial is a vital part of America’s system of checks and balances.
“Checks and balances” means that the judicial branch of government is equal to the other two
branches (executive and legislative) and the courts can overturn laws or acts of government
that violate constitutional rights. Our system of checks and balances requires a strong judicial
branch. A strong judicial branch requires a healthy jury trial option. Jury service is your chance
to have a voice in the judicial branch of government.

3. The founding fathers included jury trials in the constitution because
jury trials prevent tyranny. The definition of tyranny is oppressive power exerted by
the government. Tyranny also exists when absolute power is vested in a single ruler. Jury trials
are the opposite of tyranny because the citizens on the jury are given the absolute power to
make the final decision

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Jury Service is a Way for U.S. citizens to Participate in the Judicial Process.

From: US Courts

Have you ever been called for Jury Service?

Think you can ‘get out of it’?

Think again.

The following information is from the United States of America Courts.

Juror Selection

Each district court randomly selects citizens’ names from lists of registered voters and people with drivers licenses who live in that district. The people randomly selected complete a questionnaire to help determine if they are qualified to serve on a jury. Those qualified are randomly chosen to be summoned to appear for jury duty. This selection process helps to make sure that jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age, or political affiliation.

Jury Pool to Jury Box

Being summoned for jury service does not guarantee that a person will actually serve on a jury. When a jury is needed for a trial, the group of qualified jurors is taken to the courtroom where the trial will take place. The judge and the attorneys then ask the potential jurors questions to determine their suitability to serve on the jury, a process called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to exclude from the jury people who may not be able to decide the case fairly. Members of the panel who know any person involved in the case, who have information about the case, or who may have strong prejudices about the people or issues involved in the case, typically will be excused by the judge. The attorneys also may exclude a certain number of jurors without giving a reason.

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Jury Consultant Career Profile – Looking for a New Career?

From: Balance Careers 

By: Sally Kane

Looking for an interesting and rewarding career?

Ever think about becoming a true specialist?

Do you like court-room work, but being a lawyer is not appealing?

The market is good for juror consultant and this article by Balanced Careers, has some solid advice on becoming a Juror Consultant.

Lawyers don’t leave the outcomes of high-profile and high-stakes jury trials to gut instinct and chance. They rely on jury consultants who are human behavior experts, helping attorneys research and select jurors and provide insight into juror behavior. Jury consultants are used in both criminal trials and in complex civil litigation.

Jury consultants possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree or Ph.D. in behavioral science, sociology, political science, criminology, psychology or another social science is usually preferred. An additional degree in law is helpful but not mandatory. Jury consultants are hired for their intuition and their knowledge of human behavior, not their legal expertise.

Jury consultants are integral to the legal process even before a trial begins. They research the jurors’ backgrounds, create juror profiles and assist with jury selection and voir dire — the questioning of prospective jurors. Jury consultants may conduct focus groups and mock trials. They also conduct pretrial research, gather and analyze demographic data, perform statistical analyses and draft analytic reports.

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Insiders’ Views on Jury Decision Making

From: Mangus

By: Lyndall Lambert, Holland & Knight LLP and Melisa Pigott, Ph.D

Overview

In the article that follows, Lyndall Lambert, Esq. shares her unique insights derived from her recent experience as a juror on a personal injury case held in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.  Dr. Melissa Pigott provides commentary on Ms. Lambert’s observations based on her experiences as a jury expert.

Ms. Lambert

Imagine my surprise when I was selected as a juror in a personal injury case, after discussing in detail during voir dire my 25 years of experience as a personal injury defense attorney.  I even acknowledged that I was familiar with all of the trial attorneys and two of the experts.  I was convinced that I would be the first on the panel to be excused.  However, after all of the strikes were made, I was one of seven jurors remaining in the courtroom.  Of course, there seemed to be more than the usual number of “loose canons” on the venire, but could they be less appealing to a plaintiff’s attorney than me?

After hearing the opening statements, it became clear why I was left on – proving liability was not much of a concern for the plaintiff.  She was a restrained passenger in a T-bone intersection collision, and she sued both of the drivers.  There was no claim that she was negligent, and it was obvious that at least one of the defendants was at fault.  Also, the plaintiff had permanent, substantial injuries, so Florida’s no-fault threshold was not an issue.  The plaintiff’s attorney probably figured that I would at least know how to reasonably evaluate the damages.  Little did he know that, of the jurors selected, I would eventually be the most liberal.

Dr. Pigott

In my many years as a social psychologist assisting attorneys in jury selection, I have come to recognize that there are many cases for which an attorney will be a suitable juror.  Although selecting an attorney for jury service is sometimes risky, in that it is highly likely that he/she will be the jury foreperson and/or opinion leader, depending on the composition of the venire an attorney may often be a better choice than other potential jurors.  Overall, there are no rules of thumb that dictate a particular attorney’s suitability for jury duty.

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NACA logo

Recapping the NACM Annual Conference

NACA logoRecapping the NACM conference.

The NACM Annual Conference, “Mind the Gap” focused on the practical application of mindfulness to anticipate and respond to gaps in addressing issues facing the courts. Being mindful of these gaps can help court leaders identify ways in which we can improve our judicial system. Courts have direct impact on individuals and societal trends directly influence the work of the court system. Court leaders, therefore, look to consciously address gaps by improving business processes, optimizing resources, building a superior workforce, and providing exceptional services. Evidence supports that conscious awareness increases employee engagement and allows for sounder decision making so that court leaders can engage in the development of programs, services, and activities that meet the growing demands placed upon the court while upholding the rule of law and maintaining public trust and confidence.

The sessions were, in our opinion, very engaging. We learned a lot.

As for the exhibit hall, we meet many court administrators and clerks from all over the United States. And had such a plethora of meaningful conservations about our services. It seems to be an issue with getting jurors to attend to their responsibilities.

We can certainly help. So, don’t wait. Call us at 800-205-4848 for your FREE consultation.

FEDERAL COURTS USING TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE JUROR EXPERIENCE

From: Courts Today

In a concerted effort to make it easier for people to serve as jurors, the federal Judiciary is embracing technologies aimed at reducing wait times, paperwork, and trips to the courthouse.

“We want jurors to have positive experiences with the courts,” said Paul Lombardi, jury supervisor for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “We recognize that while jury service is an important civic duty, it can be seen as an inconvenience, which is why we have implemented systems to foster better communication between the jurors and the court.”

One of the major innovations in recent years was adoption Judiciary-wide of an electronic records management system, which makes it easier to form jury pools without requiring people to trek to their local courthouses. The Jury Management System stores jury questionnaire information and runs a computer algorithm to create a random pool of qualified people.  Prior to the electronic system, the selection process was paper-based, and court staff would manually process questionnaire data and use a jury wheel, similar to a bingo wheel, to form jury pools.

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How Jurors Think: Thinking About Thinking

From: Mind Matters

Ever wonder what jurors really think?

Do they actual take their role seriously?

This information from Mind Matters may help explain a few things.

The U.S. legal system is based on the idea that people make decisions, or judgments, in a systematic, controlled and reasoned way devoid of emotion. The assumption is that jurors and judges can stack up the evidence on a scale to determine whether or not the burden of proof has been met. Jury instructions routinely command jurors to leave their emotion and sympathy out of their decision making process. Every time, however, we learn of a jury verdict that defies logic and we wish to yell out that the jury “just did not get it,” we have witnessed that people do not think the way the law expects. As psychologists we are especially attuned to the way people think and make decisions. As jury consultants, we work with attorneys to fit their expertise in advocating for their clients with how jurors think, which is the purpose of this blog.

Reason and emotion are traditionally viewed as polar opposites with emotion merely interfering with reason and clouding judgment. The reality is reason requires emotion. The human ability to reason evolved alongside our ability to respond emotionally. Because reason and emotion have developed together, when either one is missing people are no longer capable of functioning in the world. Not only is the separation of emotion from decision-making nearly impossible for people to do, it is abnormal.

In fact, the only people who can completely factor out emotion in their thought processes are those who have serious brain injuries. Individuals with certain types of brain damage interrupting emotional cues (but who otherwise have normal intelligence) are unable to make decisions at all. They cannot even make simple decisions like scheduling appointments because they are unable to decide what day or time would be ideal. Although they can reason and rationalize all the pros and cons of the decision, without the emotional cues to tip the scales in a certain direction, their decision-making is effectively paralyzed. Emotion is an essential element of making a decision.

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