A Jury is a group of citizens which hears the testimony in legal disputes
determines what it believes is the truth.
The word jury is derived from the French jurer, which means "to swear an oath."
Rebellious English barons forced the despotic and cash-strapped King John
approve the Magna Carta in 1215 at Runnymede, southwest of London, near
where Windsor castle stands today.
One of its articles says that no freeman shall be imprisoned, deprived
property, exiled, or destroyed, except by the lawful judgment of his
(equals) or by the law of the land. The idea of due process of law,
trial by jury, is said to have developed from this.
Throughout the British colonies of North America, juries were used in both
and criminal trials. Jury trials were highly regarded by the
they served as a means of preventing enforcement of unpopular British
After 1776 the early state constitutions safeguarded the right to a jury
in both criminal and civil cases, but the federal Constitution of
guaranteed the right to a jury trial in criminal cases only. This was
by the Bill of Rights, which was adopted in 1791. The 7th Amendment
guarantees the right of a jury trial in all civil cases in which the amount
of judgment might exceed 20 dollars. The 6th Amendment guarantees the
right of a jury trial in all criminal proceedings.
Interestingly, the expression “A jury
of one’s peers” comes from the Magna Carta, and is found nowhere in the U.S.
Constitution. The 6th amendment to the Constitution simply guarantees the
right to “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…”
Types of Juries:
In the United States, the law provides for three types of juries: (1) petit, (2)
juries. A petit, or petty, jury is a trial jury
and the most common form of jury. In a civil lawsuit, a petit jury
decides who is at fault and how much money must be paid in damages. In
a criminal trial, the jury decides whether the defendant is or is not
guilty. The jury hears testimony by witnesses, then the lawyer for each
side summarizes the case. In a charge to the jury, the judge explains
the laws that apply. Finally, the jury discusses the case and reaches a
For MORE information about our jury system,