Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law - Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Av Preeminent rated, Martindale Hubbell
A "Jury System" was proposed as a part of Judicial Reforms currently undertaken in Japan. Example for the reform, increase in number of lawyers admitted to the Bar, simplifying the qualification of foreign lawyers admitted to practice law in Japan, etc. The familiarity of the system only comes from either the TV. broadcast of O.J. Simpson case or Jury duty one may have been called upon in U.S. People are misinformed regarding jury trial, such as prejudiced and unfair towards foreign owned corporation, etc.
The terms "jury" and "trial by jury" were used at the adoption of the Constitution, and have their source in the English legal system.
Friends not the novelty are the ones who heard the case.
Everybody gets fair hearing.
It was protection against abuse of power.
A certain number of men and women selected according to law, and sworn (jurati) to inquire of certain matters of fact, and declare the truth upon evidence to be laid before them.
A jury is a body of persons temporarily selected from the citizens of a particular district, and invested with the power to present or indict a person for a public offense, or to try a question of fact.
While at common law, and traditionally, a jury consisted of 12 members, there is no constitutional infirmity or deficiency in a jury of less than twelve; and it is common for state and Federal district court juries to consist of six persons for civil cases, instead of twelve. Also, in federal district courts, and many state courts, the parties may stipulate that the jury shall consist of any number less than twelve.
D. Impartial and qualified Jury
The right to "jury trial" of controverted issues implies a trial by an impartial and qualified jury.
Jury must be not partial, not favoring one party more than another, unprejudiced, disinterested, equitable and just, and that the merits of the case shall not be prejudiced.
The term refers to a jury which is of an impartial frame of mind at beginning of trial, is influenced only by legal and competent evidence produced during trial, and bases its verdict upon evidence connecting defendant with the commission of the crime charged.
E. Jury Trial
Trial of matter or cause before jury as opposed to trial before judge (also known as a jury waived trial, bench trial, etc.)
Judge's role is to administer the law, control of proceedings and the decision of questions of law or discretion.
III. Jury trial in Texas generally
A. Civil matter
The right to a jury trial in civil matter is guaranteed by the state constitution and is even broader than that guaranteed in the federal courts by the United States Constitution. The key difference is that Texas allows juries even in matters of equity.
The main question is whether there is a factual matter for the jury to decide. It is so common to allow a jury trial in most matters that only a few cases do not allow it except;
- Civil contempt of court;
- Election contest;
- Writs of habeas corpus; and
- Venue contests.
The right to a jury is not automatic - unless demanded, it is waived. Once a jury is demand has been timely made, the only way to remove it to a non-jury docket is by agreement of all parties.
B. Criminal matter
The right to a jury trial in a criminal matter is also guaranteed by the state constitution and the United States Constitution.
A defendant has a general right to a trial by a jury. This means that there must be a jury trial unless an effective waiver is executed and filed. The defendant may elect to plead guilty but also to have a jury assess punishment.
A defendant cannot waive trial by jury in a prosecution for capital murder in which the State notifies the defendant and the court that it will seek the death penalty. In all other cases, the right can be waived.
C. Impartial jury (How to select impartial jury?)
Means that every member of the jury must be a fair and impartial juror.
Voir Dire (Jury Selection): The lawyers do not "select' the jury; rather, they eliminate, by challenge for cause or peremptory challenge, those who are disqualified for the case or who would, in their opinion, be most harmful to them.
Peremptory challenges cannot be exercised for racially motivated reasons. In the case in which the government is a litigant, peremptory challenge must be used for gender-neutral reasons.
D. Qualified jury
A prospective juror must meet constitutional requirements which include that he or she be:
- 18 years of age;
- Qualified to vote (although registration to vote is not required);
- Able to read and write English;
- A citizen of the state and of the county;
- Not a felon or under accusation of theft or felony;
- Of sound mind;
- Of good moral character; and
- Must not have served on a jury six days within the preceding six months (district court) or six days within the preceding three months (county court).
- Persons over 65 years of age;
- Persons having custody of children under 10; and
- Students of primary, secondary, or higher education schools may, if they choose, be exempted.
The jury system was established based upon a notion of "fair and impartiality."
It was protection against abuse of power.