Courts and Legal Procedure
The Role of Juries
A jury is a group of people summoned and sworn to decide on the facts in issue at a trial. The jury is composed of people who represent a cross-section of the community.
The jury listens to the evidence during a trial, decides what facts the evidence has established, and draws inferences from those facts to form the basis for their decision. The jury decides whether a defendant is "guilty" or "not guilty" in criminal cases, and "liable" or "not liable" in civil cases.
When cases are tried before a jury, the judge still has a major role in determining which evidence may be considered by the jury. The jury is the fact-finder, but it is left to "find" facts only from the evidence which is legally admissible. The judge instructs the jury on the legal principles or rules that must be followed in weighing the facts. If the jury finds the accused guilty or liable, it is up to the judge to sentence the defendant.