After you have been selected to sit on a jury, the court session will begin each time the court bailiff calls for order and announces the opening of Court. Everyone rises and stands until the judge is seated on the bench. When Court is adjourned, the same procedure is followed.
As a juror, you will be sitting in the jury box that will be on the left side of the judge’s bench. A specific seat will be assigned to you. Cases that come before the Municipal Court are alleged city ordinance violations that can be divided into two general categories – traffic citations and misdemeanors. When an ordinance is allegedly violated, the action is brought in the name of the City of Thornton as "plaintiff" against the person charged with a crime who is called the "defendant."
The defendant is brought before the Municipal Court by a summons and complaint sometimes called a citation.
Persons charged with violating the City of Thornton ordinances, if they admit the charges, do so by entering a plea of "guilty." If they deny charges, they do so by pleading "not guilty."
In criminal cases, jurors are called upon to decide whether defendants are guilty or not guilty of offenses with which they are charged. Remember that in our system of justice, criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The judge will provide further instructions on this matter.
Jury trials have eight steps:
Step 1) The prospective jurors are brought into the courtroom and introduced to the defendant and prosecution.
Step 2) The jury panel is randomly selected and questioned.
Step 3) The prosecution opens the trial and presents its case.
Step 4) The defendant or defense attorney offer its case and evidence.
Step 5) Each side offers rebuttal testimony and evidence.
Step 6) Each side then presents their closing arguments.
Step 7) The judge gives the jury its instructions.
Step 8) The jury deliberates and renders a verdict.
Important Tips: Observe each witness giving testimony. Be alert for anything in the witness’ words, demeanor, or behavior on the witness stand, or for anything in the other evidence in the case which might help you to judge the truthfulness, accuracy, and weight of the testimony.
During deliberations, the jurors’ first job is to select a foreperson. This can be done rather quickly, since the foreperson does not have any more authority than any other jurors. The foreperson simply presides over the discussion and maintains order in the jury deliberation room. The foreperson is also responsible for calling the vote.
During deliberations you should participate in the discussion. Keep an open mind and allow for the free exchange of all ideas. Carefully consider all opinions that are voiced, especially those which appear reasonable to you. Be willing to change your original views if through the deliberations you become convinced they were incorrect.