Schedule of Upcoming Jury Trials - Click HERE
The right of a trial by jury is the privilege of every person in the United States, and is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Arizona Constitutions.
In our ever busier society, with instant communication and multi-tasking, many persons feel that jury service is a burden and an imposition. There is a feeling by many that their individual lives and busy schedules are more important than fulfilling their civil obligations. However, that right to trial by jury is one of the bulwarks a free society has against tyranny. It exists for all whether they have ever been accused of a crime, or were ever a party to a law suit. The right to serve on a jury of ones peers is every bit as important a right as the right to have the case heard by a jury of ones peers. We have become complacent about many of our rights and liberties as free men and women. If we as individuals do not preserve those rights and liberties, we will lose them.
If you have been summoned to serve as a juror in the Oro Valley Magistrate, (or any other court), hopefully you will view it as an opportunity to serve your fellow citizens and participate meaningfully in our judicial system.
WHAT KIND OF CASES WILL BE HEARD BY A JURY IN THE ORO VALLEY COURT?
The Oro Valley Magistrate Court handles only misdemeanor criminal cases. A defendant is entitled to a trial by jury in any case that a) was triable to a jury at common law, b) involves a crime of moral turpitude, or c) involves a penalty that would exceed 6 months in jail. There are primarily four offenses that would fall into one of these categories: alcohol or drug related driving offenses (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving with a blood alcohol content in excess of .08% or .15%), theft or shoplifting, giving false information to a police officer, or unlawful possession of marijuana.
The Court does not handle felony criminal cases or civil law suits.
HOW LONG DO JURY TRIALS LAST IN THE ORO VALLEY COURT?
A jury for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or drugs (or other related charges, driving with a blood alcohol content greater than .08% or greater than .15%, or driving with a drug metabolite in the system ) usually take two days to complete.
The other offenses listed usually do not have the same technical information and can be completed in one day. If you are selected to serve as a juror, your jury service will continue until the trial is completed.
FAILURE TO APPEAR AS DIRECTED MAY SUBJECT YOU TO PENALTIES BY LAW
Postponement of Jury Services
If you are not available on the date scheduled, you may request TWO postponements of your service. You will receive confirmation of your new date by mail. Inconvenience to a prospective trial juror or an employer is not a legal reason to be excused from jury service. However, you may request to be postponed for this reason.
Request to be excused are rarely granted. In particular, excuses are not granted on the basis of religious beliefs, moral beliefs, status as business proprietors, professional status as doctors or lawyers, etc. Excuses are granted on the basis that you do not read, write or understand English or because you suffer from a severe mental or physical illness. If this is the case, please contact the court administrator immediately by calling 229-4786. A Medical Excuse From Jury Service form may be obtained on our web site.
A prospective juror who is at least 75 (seventy-five) years of age may submit a written request to be excused temporarily or permanently. On receipt of the request of the request the judge or jury commissioner shall excuse the prospective juror from service.
Term of Service
Your service is required as a prospective juror for a minimum of one day. Please be prepared to remain the full day. If you are selected as a juror, your jury service will continue until the trial is completed.
FOLLOWING ARE ADDITIONAL AREAS THAT MAY REQUIRE SPECIAL ATTENTION OR PREPARATION
Since you, as a juror, are an officer of the court, we request that you dress appropriately. Business attire is suggested. The temperature of the jury assembly areas and courtrooms can be unpredictable. Shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, halters, braless dresses or tops, tee-shirts, rubber thongs and other informal attire is not considered appropriate in the courtroom setting. If you should appear wearing these or other items deemed unsuitable for attending court, you may be required to return home at your own expense to change into more suitable attire.
If you are selected as a juror for a case, you will be asked to wear a juror badge each day. This badge will be given to you by the bailiff and identifies you as an empanelled juror to other people and may possibly protect you from overhearing any conversations pertaining to your case.
As a juror, you will receive $25 per day plus mileage for each day you serve. However, in Pima County, you will receive mileage only for the first day you appear, unless you are selected to hear a trial. Compensation for mileage is based on ZIP code. Payment is automatic if the total is $5 or more. If reimbursement is less than $5, you must complete a form available from the Jury Commissioner to request payment.
Conduct in Court
You will be instructed where to report and asked to wait in the lobby or jury/conference room. Once inside the courtroom, follow instructions given to you there. You will be permitted to leave for lunch and to return home at the close of the day's session in court. If an emergency arises while you are sitting as a juror, consult the court clerk or judge about your problem. Should you need to get in touch with your family or employer, the court clerk will be happy to assist you.
Conduct in the Jury Room
Upon retiring to the jury room to deliberate, the jury selects a foreperson. It is the foreperson's duty to act as the presiding officer, to see that the jury's deliberations are conducted in an orderly fashion, and to see that the issues submitted for the jury's consideration are fully and fairly discussed and that every juror has a chance to say what he/she thinks about every question.
When ballots or votes should be taken, the foreperson should see that this is done. The foreperson should sign any written request made of the judge. A good foreperson can keep the discussion organized, save time and get efficient results. Every juror should listen carefully to the views of the other members of the jury and consider them with an open mind. Your final vote should represent your own opinion. As a result of the discussion with fellow jurors, your opinion may have changed from that which was first held. You should not hesitate to change your mind. When differences of opinion arise, you should say what you think and why you think it. You must not try to force another juror to agree with you nor should you refuse to listen to the arguments and opinions of the others. You must never shirk your responsibility and must never permit any decision to be reached by chance or toss of a coin. If there is any disagreement or confusion as to the judge's instructions, or as to their meaning, the jury (through its foreperson) can ask the clerk for further instructions or assistance from the judge.
The Course of a Trial
After the jury has been sworn to try the case, the trial proceeds. Usually each trial consists of the following stages:
- A. An opening statement is made by lawyer for the state. The lawyer for the defendant may make an opening statement at this time or at the close of the state's evidence. An opening statement is an outline of what the lawyers think the evidence will be and is offered to help jurors understand and follow the evidence during the trial. An opening statement is not an argument, and what the lawyers say in their opening statements is not evidence.
- B. The state offers evidence to prove the plaintiff's case.
- C. The defendant may (but is not required to) offer evidence to show that the state has failed to prove all the essential elements of its case or to establish a legal defense.
- D. The state is then allowed to offer to rebut or refute new material presented by the defendant.
- E. After all the evidence has been presented, the lawyers make their final arguments or closing statements to the jury. In the final argument, the state’s attorney goes over the elements he or she needed to prove to obtain a conviction and the facts as he/she believes were presented to prove those elements, They also present arguments based on those facts why they believe the jury should find the defendant guilty of the offense charged. The defendant’s attorney would then have an opportunity to present arguments that the state had not proven each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt and review for the jury the evidence he/she believes shows the defendant should be found not guilty. While these arguments may give the jury a better understanding of the case it is important to remember that what the lawyers say in their closing arguments is not evidence.
- F. Following the argument of the lawyers, the judge will instruct the jury on the law of the case. It is the jury's duty to follow and apply the instructions given by the judge as to the law.
- G. The bailiff is then sworn to take charge of the jury and escort them from the courtroom to the jury deliberating room. The first order of business of the jury is to select/elects a foreperson or presiding juror to preside over its deliberations until a verdict, which is based upon the law and evidence, is reached. The verdict must be unanimous, meaning all 6 jurors must agree.
H. After the verdict is reached in the jury room, the foreperson signs the verdict. Then all of the jurors return to the courtroom where the verdict is received. In some cases each juror will be asked if he/she concurs with the verdict. This is called "polling the jury."
- 1. Questioning of Witnesses. Each witness at the trial, before testifying, is sworn to tell the truth. Questions on direct examination and on cross-examination are asked by the lawyers to arrive at the truth. The judge may also question the witnesses. Jurors may not question witnesses.
- 2. Objections to Evidence. Occasionally, the lawyers for one side will object to a question asked or an exhibit offered by the other side. Under the law, lawyers are within their rights in objecting to the introduction of any evidence which they believe is improper. At times the judge will hear arguments on these objections out of the hearing of the jury. If the judge thinks the evidence objected to is not proper, the judge will sustain the objection and not allow the evidence. If the judge thinks the lawyer is mistaken in the objection, the judge will overrule the objection and allow the evidence. In either event, the matter to be decided is a legal question which the judge alone must decide. Objections by the lawyers, or the ruling of the judge with regard to them, should not cause the jury to favor one side or the other.
The Courtroom and Functions of the Personnel
Most courtrooms are physically arranged along the following design:
The Judge: The judge has many duties in connection with a trial. The judge must see that the trial is conducted in an orderly manner according to prescribed rules and laws covering the selection of the jury, the presentation of evidence, the arguments of the lawyers, the instructions to the jury, and the rendering of the verdict. The judge must decide the propriety of the questions put to prospective jurors as to their qualifications, and on requests to excuse jurors. The judge must also rule on objections. The judge must tell the jurors what issues of fact they must decide, the laws which apply to the case, and what their responsibilities are. If there is no issue of fact for the jury, the judge must direct the jury to return the proper verdict or otherwise dispose of the case.
The Courtroom Clerk: The clerk sits at the desk to one side of the judge. The clerk is an officer of the court and records a summary of what happens in a case, orders made by the court during the trial, and the verdict at the end of the trial. The clerk also marks all exhibits when they are received in evidence and attends to the jury.
Witness: A person who gives testimony concerning the issue being tried.
Defendant: In a criminal case, the defendant is the person charged with an offense .
Lawyer (Attorney/Counsel): The legal representative of a party in a trial.
Town Attorney, County Attorney or Prosecutor: The prosecuting officer who represents the State in criminal cases.
Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the party bringing the lawsuit; in a criminal case, this would be the State of Arizona.
Definitions of Words and Phrases
The following definitions of words and phrases commonly used in trials may be helpful
Civil Case: A lawsuit is called a civil case when it is between persons in their private capacity or relations.
Criminal Case: A lawsuit is called a criminal case when the State of Arizona is the plaintiff, a person or persons on the other side are defendant(s), and involves a question of whether the defendant has violated one of the laws defining crimes.
Deposition: A deposition is the testimony of a witness or party to a suit, given before trial, under oath, and typed in question and answer form, just as if it was given in court.
Directed Verdict: After evidence has been presented and if no issue of fact remains for the jury to determine, the judge will instruct the jury as to the verdict to return. The jury must return such a verdict.
Exhibit: An exhibit is a document or material produced and identified in court for the purpose of introducing it as evidence in the case. Each of these documents or objects is ordinarily given a letter or number in alphabetical or numerical sequence before it is offered in evidence.
Motion: A motion is an application made to the judge by the lawyer for one of the parties. Motions may be oral or written and are made to obtain an order, ruling or direction in favor of the applicant.
Rest: In legal terms, this means that the lawyer has concluded the evidence he/she wants to introduce at that stage of the trial.
Stipulation: A stipulation is an agreement by the lawyers to certain undisputed facts or issues which need not be proved during the course of the trial.
Subpoena: A subpoena is an official order to attend court at a stated time. The most common use of the subpoena is to summon witnesses to court for the purpose of testifying.
Voir Dire: Old French for "to speak the truth." The examination of prospective jurors for selection of the jury to try the case through the use of challenges for cause and/or peremptory challenges.
Important Things to Remember During the Trial
After you are sworn as a juror in a case, there are some rules of conduct which you should observe:
DON'T BE LATE FOR COURT SESSIONS. Because the trial cannot begin until you are present, tardiness can cause delays which lengthen the trial and waste the time of all involved. Also, you may be cited for contempt of court because of your delay or absence.
LISTEN TO EVERY QUESTION AND ANSWER. Since you must base your verdict upon the evidence as presented, you must hear every question asked and every answer given. If, for any reason, you do not hear some of the evidence, raise your hand and inform the judge.
DON'T BE AN "AMATEUR DETECTIVE". Since the only evidence you can consider is that presented in court, you are not allowed to make an independent investigation or visit any of the places involved in the case. If it is necessary for the jury to visit a site, the Judge will so order and send the jury as a group to see it.
CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS. You should not indicate by exclamation, facial expression, or any other reaction, how any evidence or any incident of the trial has affected you.
DISCUSSION OF THE CASE. During any trial in which you are a juror, there are certain things you must NOT do:
First, do not talk to anyone about the case.
Second, do not talk to anyone about any person involved in the case--the parties, the witnesses or the lawyers.
Third, do not talk to anyone involved in the case--the parties, the lawyers or the witnesses.
Fourth, do not read any newspaper stories about the trial and do not watch or listen to any television or radio broadcasts about the trial.
Integrity of Jurors
In performing their sworn duty, jurors must conduct themselves in such a way that no one can question their integrity. Any judicial officer, whether judge, lawyer, or juror, who acts in such a way as to destroy public confidence in the judicial system becomes unfit to perform his/her duty. Jurors should be watchful of their conduct and commit no act which may arouse the distrust of any individual. They should accept no gifts or favors, no matter how insignificant or trivial, either directly or indirectly from parties in the case or their lawyers. A juror should avoid all familiarity with everyone interested in a decision of the jury.
Both parties in a case have spent considerable time preparing for the trial. They will present evidence and arguments to prove their side of the case. Jurors must be careful not to form hasty conclusions or opinions until they have heard all of the evidence and arguments and have received the instructions of the judge. Do not form or express any opinion of the case until you go to the jury room to decide the case and you have had the opportunity to carefully and impartially discuss the evidence with your fellow jurors. Justice will be done if jurors will base their verdicts solely upon the evidence and upon the judge's instructions as to the law, rather than upon their own notions of what the law is or ought to be. If you have any questions regarding juror conduct or the trial, ask the bailiff to consult the judge. The judge is always in charge during the course of a trial. The judge is always ready and available to determine all questions of law pertaining to the case being tried.
Mileage is paid from the center of your ZIP code area to the Court Building. You will receive the mileage rate allowed by law if you are excused and NOT selected to serve on a jury. These monies will be paid automatically if your ZIP code pays $5 or more. If your ZIP code pays less than $5 or you claim greater mileage, you must advise the Jury Commissioner's staff. If you are selected to serve on a jury, you will be automatically paid the jury fee and mileage allowed by law for each day served.
Privacy/Confidentiality of Jurors
Both prospective and empanelled jurors have the right to privacy and confidentiality. Your Social Security Number is used solely for the purpose of paying the juror fee and mileage to which you are entitled. It is disclosed only to the Finance Department in the county in which you served to issue a check or warrant to you.
Your home or mailing address is known only to the court. Only the judge can order the release of jurors' addresses, usually to the lawyers in the case, and only for a good, legal reason. This very rarely happens. At the conclusion of the trial, should you be contacted by the lawyers in a case in which you sat as a juror, remember that you are not obligated to divulge any information concerning the deliberations, the verdict, or your opinions about anything concerning the case unless ordered to do so by the court.
Occasionally television reporters will ask the judge to film courtroom activities. If the judge approves, the reporters are instructed to be unobtrusive and to not film jurors. You will not appear on television. Reporters may interview the lawyers or parties in a case, and once the trial is over may request to interview the jurors. It is your decision whether or not to consent to an interview. You are not obligated to divulge any information concerning the deliberations, the verdict, or your opinions about anything concerning the case.
Qualification and Selection of Jurors
Our master jury list is made up of names randomly selected from lists provided by the Arizona Motor Vehicle and Voter Registration Departments. A computer randomly selects the panels (groups of prospective jurors from which actual trial jurors are chosen).
Questioning of Jurors
After you have reported to the courtroom, remain seated in the back of the courtroom until your name has been called to be seated in the jury box or until you are excused by the judge. When you are seated in the jury box, you will be sworn to truthfully answer all questions asked of you regarding your qualifications to serve as a juror. You may be sworn in while sitting in the back of the courtroom.
Once sworn, you will be asked general questions by the judge regarding your qualifications to sit as a juror. You will be asked to pay close attention to these questions even if you are not seated in the jury box. When the judge finishes the questioning, the lawyers are then permitted to ask questions of the jurors. This is called the "voir dire" examination.
If you have never served as a juror, it may seem to you that some of the questions are very personal. Lawyers have a duty to their clients to ask questions to assist them in deciding which jurors to select. However, it is not intended that any question embarrass a juror in any way. There may be many reasons why a person on the jury panel might not be considered a wholly fair and impartial juror in the case about to be tried. The person might be closely related to one of the parties in the case, have a business relationship with one of the lawyers, or have some personal knowledge of the case. If you think you should be disqualified for any reason, whether or not the matter is brought out by questions directly asked, you should immediately raise your hand and, upon recognition by the judge, tell the judge and the lawyers about it.
If any reason for disqualification is shown, a juror may be excused from that case by the judge. Such an excuse is technically known as a "challenge for cause." Also, in every case each party has a certain number of "peremptory" challenges to remove jurors without any cause being stated. If a juror is challenged or excused, whether for cause or without cause being stated, understand that the challenge is not a reflection on the juror in any way. That a prospective juror is excused means simply that in the particular case before the court, it is proper and lawful to excuse the juror.
When the "voir dire" examination has been concluded and the required number of jurors has been seated, the empanelled jurors are sworn to try the case. The rest of the prospective jurors are then excused from the court.
Anything considered to be a weapon or that is deemed unacceptable by the security staff will be confiscated and dealt with appropriately. No edged cutting devices, i.e. straight razors, pocket knives (more than two inches), hunting knives, or butterfly knives are all prohibited.
Waiting Serves a Purpose
Due to the nature of jury service and the court process itself, there are often periods of waiting. Sometimes, for example, the parties to a lawsuit will continue to negotiate and settle the matter after a jury panel has been assembled; or the judge may be hearing arguments on last minute points of law.
Occasionally, the lawyers may talk with the judge out of the hearing of the jury, or the judge may excuse the jury from the courtroom so that a point of law or an objection may be argued. Often, the reason for the delays may not be explained to you. Please remember that this time is spent discussing and simplifying issues. Sometimes a case even reaches settlement during such conferences. While this may seem to be a waste of time, obviously a case that doesn't have to be tried saves time and tax dollars.
As jurors, you are, by your presence and readiness to sit in trial of a case, actively serving our system of justice. Sometimes cases are settled "on the courthouse steps" or during the course of the trial because the and their lawyers may feel that you, as jurors, might decide their dispute in a decision less favorable to them. We suggest bringing something to read, needlework, etc.
Many employers require proof that you were summoned to serve as a juror. The upper portion of the "Biographical Information" form, when signed by the court, will serve as your verification of jury service. If you are selected to serve on a case, have the clerk date and sign the form each day until your assignment has ended. If you are not selected to sit as a juror, the printed signature and date are to be used for verification of your attendance that day.