If you have been selected as a juror you will be asked to take the juror’s oath or affirmation. The choice as to whether you take the oath or the affirmation is entirely up to you.
The essence of the oath or affirmation is that you swear/affirm that you “will conscientiously try the case against the accused (or the issues on which your decision is required) according to the evidence and that you will not disclose anything about the jury’s deliberations”.
Each time the court adjourns, you will be required to take a new oath/affirmation that you will not discuss the trial or reveal what is said by the jury to anyone except fellow jurors during that adjournment.
If a juror does not adhere to this oath/affirmation, it can mean that the trial may be aborted and will then have to start again with a complete new jury.
Jurors must not talk to or communicate with any witnesses or any person connected with the case during the trial as this could also cause the trial to be aborted.
Please remember that the court staff are there to help you, but they cannot discuss anything about the case with you.
Before the trial starts
The Judge will inform the jurors of the name of the victim and the accused and outline the nature of the alleged crime.
The Judge or the crown prosecutor will inform the jurors of the names of all the material witnesses.
The Judge will ask the jurors if any of them have any knowledge of the victim, witnesses or the alleged crime – if so, any juror having such knowledge should advise the Judge.
If the Judge is of the opinion that such knowledge means that the juror could not be impartial then the judge will replace that juror with another juror.
You will be asked to elect a foreperson. The foreperson acts as the spokesperson for the jury and to some extent chairs the jury’s deliberations.
If the jury wants to ask a question or get clarification on any points during the trial, the foreperson is the one who makes the enquiry on behalf of the jury.
During the trial
At the beginning of the trial, the crown prosecutor gives his/her opening address in which he/she outlines the facts of the case and indicates how those facts will be proved.
The defence counsel has the option of making an opening address straight after the crown counsel, however he/she is under no obligation to do so.
The crown prosecutor then calls witnesses to give evidence. The crown prosecutor asks each witness questions. Then they may be questioned (cross-examined) by defence counsel. The crown prosecutor may then re-examine the witness to clarify any points raised by defence counsel in cross-examination. This process is repeated for each witness required to give evidence. Exhibits can be tendered to the court during this process.
After the trial
If, after the trial, a juror feels the need to talk to someone then counselling is available.
If you feel the need for the services of a counsellor then contact the Deputy Sheriff who will advise you on what to do.