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After the Trial

Judge’s Instructions

When testimony is completed, the judge will review the laws that apply to the case.  This is important information because it provides you with direction about how you must apply the law to the facts.  Please listen carefully.  Remember that you are governed by the law as the judge explains it to you.  Do not attempt to change it or ignore it, even if you disagree with the law.  You and the judge are under oath to apply the laws of the state accurately and fairly.

Jury Deliberations

Once closing arguments are completed and the judge gives the jury instructions about the laws to consider in the case, the jury will be excused to the jury room to deliberate or discuss the case.

The jury’s first task is to choose a foreperson that will monitor the deliberations and take the verdict into court.  Jurors may choose a foreperson by ballot or by verbally nominating someone.

The foreperson makes sure that each juror has a chance to participate in deliberations and that the jury discusses the issues completely while making its decision.  In turn, each juror should listen to and consider the views of other jurors.  Understand that your opinion may change during deliberations, but do not feel obligated to change your mind unless you are convinced it is the right thing to do.  In the end, your final vote should represent your own opinion. 

You must base your decisions about the case facts on the evidence presented during trial.  But you should also remember the judge’s instructions about weighing the evidence, how to decide what evidence to believe, and the burden of proof.  Also, consider the arguments of the attorneys if you feel they were fair and reasonable.  And, of course, consider the laws explained to you by the judge.

While you will not be given a transcript of the proceedings, you may take notes during the trial.  Follow the judge’s instructions at the time of your service.

The Verdict

In a criminal case, all jurors must agree on the verdict.  In a civil case, Minnesota law says that if all jurors cannot agree on a verdict within six hours, then it is only necessary that a certain number of jurors agree, as the judge will instruct you.

Your findings on questions of fact are almost always final.  Very seldom is a verdict set aside.  Therefore, it is important that you listen carefully to the judge, witnesses and attorneys, deliberate calmly and fairly, and make the best decision you can.