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Crawford County, Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT JURY SERVICE

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are jurors selected and what are the requirements for being a juror?

 

In Crawford County, jurors are randomly selected from the voter registration file.  In mid-March to early-April of each year an annual pool selection is completed and prospective juror information forms are mailed by the Jury Commissioners of Crawford County to each voter selected.  This information form is not a summons to report for jury service, but simply the process used by the Crawford County Municipal and Common Pleas Courts to gather a list of qualified county citizens to fulfill the need for various types of jurors throughout the following jury year.  When a juror is selected for a specific court and type of jury, additional information will be sent via regular mail from that specific court. 

 

To qualify as a juror for Crawford County, you must reside within the court’s jurisdiction, be at least 18 years of age and you must not have lost your right to sit as a juror by having been convicted of a felony.  Beyond this, every citizen is given the opportunity to fulfill their civic duty, without prejudice, as a member of a jury panel.

 

 

What are the different types of jurors and what role do they fulfill?

 

The Crawford County Common Pleas Court is responsible to summons two types of jurors; petit jurors and grand jurors.

 

Petit Jury:

 

A petit jury term year runs from the beginning of September to the end of August of the following year.  Petit jury terms run a length of four months beginning in September, January, and May of each jury year.  If you are selected to serve as a petit juror for Common Pleas Court, you will be notified by mail approximately one month prior to the start of a jury term.  The notification will include a jury summons and correspondence from the court with instructions regarding your jury service.  When selected for a specific petit jury group, you will be notified by mail from the court of your jury group number and date to appear with follow-up instructions to call the Jury Service Message Line the evening prior to your scheduled appearance date.  As a petit juror, unless an emergency should arise, you will only be required to sit on one trial jury throughout the duration of your term.  However, you may be required to call the Jury Service Message Line several times due to trials settling or being continued just prior to their scheduled trial date. 

 

A petit juror selected to sit on a trial jury will hear a case of a criminal or civil nature.  You will not know the type of trial or the specifics of that trial until you appear as a juror and start the trial process.  The law for a criminal trial requires a trial jury of twelve jurors, with eight jurors being required for a trial jury on a civil trial.  Most jury trials will seat one or two alternate jurors, in the event of unforeseen circumstances in which a seated juror is unable to attend the entire trial. 

 

A criminal case is filed in the name of the State of Ohio against an individual who has been charged with a crime, called the defendant.  A crime is a violation of a law enacted by our Legislature to protect our basic rights and freedoms.  When seated as a juror on a criminal case, you will hear evidence from both parties; the prosecution (State of Ohio) and the defendant.  A criminal trial requires all twelve jurors to unanimously find the defendant guilty or not guilty. 

 

A civil case is usually between two or more persons, companies, or corporations who have a dispute concerning money or property.  The party filing the suit is called the plaintiff.  The party against whom the suit is being filed is called the defendant.  When seated as a juror on a civil case, you will hear evidence from both parties.  A civil trial requires at least three-fourths of the trial jurors to agree on the verdict. 

 

Evidence is the testimony of the witnesses, the exhibits admitted during trial, facts agreed to by counsel, and facts the court requires you to accept as true.  Evidence does not include the pleadings, statements of counsel, or testimony, which has been stricken and the view of the premises, if any.  You may not speculate as to why the court sustained an objection to any question or what the answer to such a question might have been.  Nor may you speculate on the truth of any suggestion included in an unanswered question.  A judge is not taking sides when ruling an objection to certain evidence, but merely applying the rules for the proper conduct of the trial.  There may be times when the jury is excused from the courtroom or when counsel and the judge will retire to chambers.  Under the law, various matters must be heard out of the presence of the jury.  When a trial is necessarily interrupted for such reasons, you should not feel as though your time is being wasted.  In many instances time is saved by such conferences. 

 

One of your duties as the “judge of the facts” is to determine the credibility of the witnesses.  You may consider the appearance of the witnesses upon the stand; the manner of testifying; the reasonableness of the testimony; the opportunity each witness had to see, hear and know the issues concerning the testimony; accuracy of memory; frankness or lack thereof; intelligence, interest and bias, if any; together with all the circumstances surrounding the testimony.  You are not required to believe the testimony of any witness simply because he or she was under oath.  It is your right to determine what testimony is worthy of belief and what is not, therefore you will apply the tests of truthfulness which you are accustomed to apply in your daily lives. 

 

As a juror, you are expected to bring all the experience, common sense, and common knowledge you possess, but you are not to rely upon any private sources of information.  This rule is only fair to the parties.  You must remain fair, impartial and attentive throughout the trial.  You may not discuss the case during the trial among other jurors or with anyone else.  You will receive the opening statements, the evidence, the arguments and the law, in that order.  It would be unfair of you to form or express an opinion before you receive everything necessary.  As a juror, if counsel, parties, or witnesses to the case approach you to discuss the case you should report the incident to the court or the bailiff immediately.  You may not, individually, investigate or attempt to obtain additional information on the case outside the courtroom.  You may not read, view or listen to any report in the newspaper, on the radio, or television on the subject of the trial.  You may only consider and decide the case upon the evidence received at the trial.  If you should acquire any information from an outside source regarding the trial, you must disregard that information when coming to your conclusion about the case.  When your period of service is completed, you will be released from these instructions.  The work of a juror is of the utmost responsibility and in the discharge of this responsibility you must be diligent in effort and conscientious in thought, otherwise a grave injustice may come about.  Jurors must decide the facts and apply the law impartially, without sympathy or favor to rich and poor, to corporations and to individuals, to men and to women, and to all litigants without regard to race, color or creed. 

 

Grand Jury:

 

A grand jury term year runs from the beginning of September to the end of August of the following year.  Grand jury terms run a length of four months beginning in September, January, and May of each jury year.  If you are selected to serve as a grand juror for the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office, you will be notified by mail from the Common Pleas Court approximately one month prior to the start of a jury term.  The notification will include a jury summons with specifics on the first date you are scheduled to appear.  A follow-up letter will be sent by the court via mail approximately one week prior to your first date of appearance, with instructions on where to check in for service.  Grand jurors are sworn in by the Common Pleas Court Judge on their first appearance and then are selected by the Prosecutor’s Office.  Grand Jury generally meets four times during the jury term on the second Monday of each month, unless otherwise specified.  It may be necessary during your jury term to meet for a “Special Grand Jury Session”.  You will be notified by the Prosecutor’s Office if this should occur. 

 

A selected grand juror will hear evidence presented by the Prosecutor’s Office about crimes and decide if a person should be charged and tried through Common Pleas Court for committing a crime.  A crime is a violation of a law enacted by our Legislature to protect our basic rights and freedoms.  As a juror, you are expected to bring all the experience, common sense, and common knowledge you possess, but you are not to rely upon any private sources of information.  It is very possible that you may have read, viewed or listened to a report in the newspaper, on the radio or television about the crime you are hearing evidence regarding.  You may only reach a verdict on the charges upon the evidence received at the Grand Jury Session.  You must remain fair and attentive throughout the session.  You must not discuss the content of any Grand Jury Session with anyone throughout the term of your jury service or thereafter.  The work of a grand juror is of the utmost responsibility and in the discharge of this responsibility you must be diligent in effort and conscientious in thought.  Jurors must decide the facts and apply the law impartially, without sympathy or favor to rich and poor, to corporations and individuals, to men and to women, and to all accused without regard to race, color or creed.

 

 

What should you know about the law regarding your employer?

 

It is your responsibility as a summoned juror to notify your employer of the potential to being called to serve on a jury for your jury term and to update them as required.

 

Ohio Revised Code 2313.18 prohibits actions of an employer of a juror, specifically prohibiting an employer from discharging or threatening to discharge any permanent employee summoned to serve as a juror if that employee gives reasonable notice of their summons prior to being absent from work for service as a juror.  It also states “Whoever violates…shall be punished as for a contempt of court”. 

 

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