What Happens During The Trial
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.
The City of Thornton has a random two-step selection process. Currently, the City obtains individual names from a multi-source list of citizens whose primary residence is in the city limits of Thornton. The computer system will randomly select names. The Jury Specialist then sends a juror questionnaire that must be completed and returned to the Court.
After the questionnaires come back, the Jury Specialist will screen them for possible disqualification. Those individuals who receive an exemption will be updated in the computer system, so as not to be recalled at a later date. Those individuals who qualify for juror service are kept in an active file until a jury trial is set.
Approximately three to four weeks prior to a jury trial, the Jury Specialist will randomly select eligible individuals to subpoena for the jury trial. A formal juror summons will be mailed with specific instructions for reporting for jury duty.
Should an emergency arise or you have questions not addressed in this section, please feel free to contact the Jury Specialist at 720-977-5400.
Qualifications for Jury Service
There are several criteria that need to be met in order to serve as a juror:
- You must be a citizen of the United States
- You must be 18 years of age
- You must be a Thornton resident
- You must be able to read, speak and understand the English language.
Exemptions from jury duty:
Any person requesting disqualification from jury duty for the following reasons must submit to the Court, in advance of the jury trial date, documentation to support their claim.
Juror service within the preceding 12 months: You must submit a letter or other formal acknowledgment from the appropriate authority verifying his or her prior juror service.
Medical disability: You must submit a letter from a licensed physician stating the nature of the disability, and an opinion on how this prevents you from rendering satisfactory juror service.
Sole responsibility for a permanently disabled person living in the same household: You must submit a letter from a licensed physician stating the name, address, age of the disabled person, the nature of care provided by the prospective juror, and an opinion on how the performance of juror service would cause risk to the disabled person. JURORS WHO ARE REGULARLY EMPLOYED AT A LOCATION OTHER THAN THEIR HOUSEHOLDS MAY NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THIS REASON.
Directions to the Court
The Municipal Court is located west of the Thornton Civic Center at 9551 Civic Center Drive. Civic Center Drive is located one block east of I-25 on Thornton Parkway. Turn left on Civic Center Drive, and take the first left into the Justice Center. The court is located on the South end of the Justice Center.
Jury Duty Scams
Various jury duty scams are committed by phone and online where people pretend to be officers of the court saying that you have failed to appear for jury duty. The perpetrator then offers to clear up a warrant or pending penalty by obtaining the person's social security number, date of birth, or credit card number for "verification" or "to pay a fine".
Such attempts are scams and attempt for identity thieves to obtain your personal information. Recipients of these contacts should not provide any personal information when receiving an unsolicited phone call or email.
As a rule, courts will not ask for confidential information by phone or email. Jury commissioners will first correspond with potential jurors by mail in the form of an official juror summons. You may also contact the court directly if you have any questions as to your jury duty status.