What do jurors do?

Jurors are randomly drawn from a court’s geographical area, typically from voter and motor vehicle registration lists. (See Jury Selection in Criminal Cases.) Their role is to evaluate evidence during trials and issue verdicts.

Jurors decide, according to the evidence, whether the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the charged crime. (See Burdens of Proof in Criminal Cases.) Jurors don’t make legal rulings, such as deciding what evidence is admissible. And they usually don’t decide what sentence the defendant should receive if there’s a conviction, except in death penalty cases.

Some judges involve jurors in the questioning of witnesses. Before excusing witnesses, a judge might invite jurors to submit written questions. After reviewing the jurors’ proposed questions with attorneys from both sides, the judge decides which questions, if any, to ask.

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