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What to Expect in Court
- Do arrive on time and do return promptly after breaks and lunch. The trial cannot proceed until all jurors are present.
- Do pay close attention. If you cannot hear what is being said, raise your hand and let the judge know.
- Do keep an open mind all through the trial.
- Do listen carefully to the instructions read by the judge. Remember, it is your duty to accept what the judge says about the law to be applied to the case.
- Don't try to guess what the judge thinks about the case. Remember that rulings from the bench do not reflect the judge’s personal views.
- Don't talk about the case, or issues raised by the case with anyone-including other jurors-while the trial is going on, and don't let others talk about the case in your presence, even family members. If someone insists on talking to you or another juror about the case, please report the matter to a court employee. These rules are designed to help you keep an open mind during the trial.
- Don't talk to the lawyers, parties, or witnesses about anything. This will avoid the impression that something unfair is going on.
- Don't try to uncover evidence on your own. Never, for example, go to the scene of an event that was part of the case you are hearing. You must decide the case only on the basis of evidence admitted in court.
- Don't let yourself get information about the case from the news media or any other outside source. Even if news reports are accurate and complete, they cannot substitute for your own impressions about the case. If you accidentally hear outside information about the case during trial, tell a member of the court staff in private.
- Don't take notes during the trial unless the judge gives you permission to do so.
- Do work out differences between yourself and other jurors through complete and fair discussions of the evidence and of the judge’s instructions. Don't lose your temper, try to bully or refuse to listen to the opinions of other jurors.
- Don't mark or write on exhibits or otherwise change or injure them.
- Don't try to guess what might happen if the case you have heard is appealed. Appellate courts deal only with legal questions-they will not change your verdict if you decided the facts based on proper evidence and instructions.
- Don't draw straws, flip coins or otherwise arrive at your verdict by chance, or the decision will be illegal. It is also improper for a jury to determine damage awards by averaging the amounts calculated by each individual juror.
- Don't talk to anyone about your deliberations or about the verdict until the judge discharges the jury. After discharge, you may discuss the verdict and the deliberations with anyone, including the media, the lawyers, or your family. Don't feel obligated to do so - no juror can be forced to talk without a court order.