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A jury foreman is a person who is elected by the jury or judge of a case and who acts as the jury’s representative and manager. The jury foreman is responsible for communicating the jury’s needs or concerns to the judge. Other duties include managing jurors, coordinating deliberations and delivering verdicts.
Creating the routine that the jury will follow during deliberations is one of the most important duties of a jury foreman. He or she decides how the evidence is reviewed and assures that all evidence and arguments made during the trial are considered. Another important job that pertains to deliberation is taking attendance. The foreman must establish that all jury members are present before beginning deliberations.
Managing deliberations and individual jurors also is an essential part of a foreman’s responsibilities. During deliberations, if arguments are out of control, the foreman must rein in the discussion and ensure that deliberations continue in a cordial way. The foreman also must make sure that each juror is providing his or her views of the case in the deliberation.
If the jury needs to communicate with the judge to ask questions that pertain to the law, it is the jury foreman who relays the question. The foreman also serves as the spokesperson after the verdict is reached. He or she is responsible for giving the judge the verdict and for delivering it in the courtroom. In some courts, the foreman reads the verdict from a verdict form, but there are courts where the judge reads each charge and the foreman responds with the verdict.
If there is a dispute about any evidence or testimony heard in the case, it is the jury foreman’s duty to ask the judge if the jury can hear the testimony again. Deliberations are temporarily halted, and the court is reconvened to hear the testimony. After the testimony is heard, the dispute over what exactly was said is solved, and deliberations are started again. Requesting to rehear testimony is a last resort because of the difficulties associated with reconvening the courtroom.
Polling the jury is another important job of the jury foreman. In criminal cases, when deliberations are nearing an end, the jury foreman must take a poll to determine if a unanimous decision has been reached. If the poll shows that the decision is not unanimous, the foreman must have each juror who is not in agreement share and explain his or her decision. In civil proceedings, a majority vote is all that is required, rather than a unanimous decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Jury Foreman?
A Jury Foreman, or Jury Foreperson, is the leader and spokesperson of a jury during a trial. They are chosen from among the jurors and have the crucial responsibility of facilitating deliberations to reach a fair verdict. The Jury Foreman guides discussions, maintains order, ensures all jurors express their opinions, and keeps deliberations focused on the evidence and judge's instructions. They play a pivotal role in announcing the jury's final decision in the courtroom. The position requires leadership skills, impartiality, and effective communication. The Jury Foreman must possess a deep understanding of the legal process and dedicate time and attention to the case.
How is the Jury Foreman selected?
The selection process of a Jury Foreman varies, with the judge sometimes appointing the Foreman based on their qualifications, including communication skills, leadership qualities, and impartiality. In other cases, jurors themselves elect the Foreman through consensus or voting. The ultimate goal is to select a fair, impartial, and capable Foreman who can effectively guide the jury through deliberations.
What are the qualifications to be a Jury Foreman?
There are no specific qualifications or formal requirements to be a Jury Foreman. The Foreman is chosen based on their ability to lead discussions effectively, understanding of the legal process, and commitment to fairness. Desirable qualities include communication skills, leadership abilities, open-mindedness, and a willingness to dedicate time and effort.
Can the Jury Foreman influence the jury's decision?
While the Jury Foreman holds influence as the leader and spokesperson, they cannot unilaterally dictate the final verdict. Their role is to guide discussions, promote fair deliberations, and help the jury collectively decide based on presented evidence. The Foreman's opinions carry weight, but the jury's decision should be a collective one, considering the evidence and judge's instructions.
What is the significance of the Jury Foreman's role in a trial?
The Jury Foreman plays a significant role in upholding the principles of the legal system. They provide leadership, maintain order, and ensure a fair and just verdict is reached. The Foreman represents the collective voice of the jury and contributes to the integrity and credibility of the trial process. Their role extends beyond the deliberation room as they announce the final decision in the courtroom, symbolizing the fairness and impartiality of the jury system.