Jury Deliberations

After hearing the jury instructions, the jury moves to the jury room to consider the case and reach its verdict. All the jury's discussion of testimony and evidence takes place only when all the jurors are present, in the jury room - nowhere else.

Inside the Jury Room

Choosing a Foreperson

Once inside the jury room, the first order of business is to select a foreperson. The foreperson sees that discussions are carried out in an orderly fashion, that issues before the jury are fully and fairly discussed, and that every juror has a chance to speak out.

The foreperson conducts any ballots that are taken and is the one who signs any requests the jury may make of the judge. 

Requesting Exhibits

To assist in its deliberation, the jury may, in writing, request the exhibits that were introduced into evidence during the trial, ask to be re-instructed on any issue, or even ask that some testimony be read (played) back.

Any exhibit brought into the jury room should be handled with care to avoid damaging or changing it in any way.

The Verdict

The verdict in a criminal case must be unanimous. Six jurors try a civil case, and a verdict requires the agreement of five of them, unless the parties have agreed to something else.


Discussion in the jury room should be open and frank. Each juror should feel free to say what he or she thinks - and why. Each juror should respect the right of others to their opinions and be willing to listen to them.

You should not hesitate to change your mind if you are persuaded that your first opinion was mistaken, but you should not change your mind unless you are convinced of that.

Reaching an Agreement

The goal of jury deliberation is agreement on a verdict, but no juror should try to force another to adopt his/her position. Courteous and reasonable discussion will usually make it possible to reach agreement.

In the instance where a jury cannot reach an agreement, the foreperson may report to the judge that the jury is deadlocked. The judge may ask whether the jury needs any points clarified. Unless persuaded that it would be useless to do so, the judge will almost certainly ask the jury to return to the jury room for further deliberations.

Differences of Opinion

It is natural that differences of opinion will arise. When they do, each juror should not only express his or her opinion but also the reasons upon which it is based. By reasoning the matter out, it is often possible for all the jurors to agree.

In the course of your deliberations, do not hesitate to reexamine your own views and change your opinion if you are convinced that it is wrong. However, none of you should surrender your honest conviction as to the weight and effect of the evidence or lack of evidence solely because of the opinion of your fellow jurors or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict.