Jurors are very important in the judicial process. We have jury trials in criminal court and civil court. A jury is often referred to as the “trier of facts” in a case. The job of a juror is to listen to the evidence presented by both parties and determine the issues of fact in the case. In other words, who is telling the truth, which often comes down to which side presents a more convincing and compelling case.
The evidence is composed of physical evidence and testimony. The jury must balance and weigh all evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a criminal case or the liability and damages in a civil case. In a typical criminal case, 12 jurors serve on the jury. In a civil case, the jury is typically composed of six jurors.
Before a jury can be selected for an individual case, the court must assemble a group of individuals who are qualified to serve on a jury — the jury pool.
What Are the Qualifications for Serving on a Jury in Maryland?
Qualifications to serve on a jury are not based on a person’s gender, national origin, disability, religion, economic status or race. However, a jury must meet three requirements to be qualified to serve on a jury in Maryland. The qualifications a person must meet to serve on a jury are:
- Must be a United States citizen;
- At least 18 years of age; and,
- Reside in the county or city in which the person would serve as a juror.
Even though you cannot be disqualified based on the criteria listed above, certain factors can disqualify someone from serving on a jury in Maryland. You cannot serve on a jury if:
- You have a criminal conviction that carries a potential sentence of more than six months in prison; your prison sentence for a conviction was more than six months; or, you have not been pardoned for that crime;
- You have pending criminal charges that could result in more than six months in prison if convicted;
- You cannot write, read, speak, or understand the English language; or,
- You have a medically documented disability that prevents you from providing satisfactory service as a juror.
Can I Get Out of Serving on a Jury?
Some people may not want to serve on a jury for various reasons. However, it is part of our civic duty to serve on a jury if we are summoned to do us. However, there are three situations in which a person can be exempted from serving on a jury.
- If you are a member of the Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives;
- You are an active duty member of the state militia or armed forces because your service a juror would unreasonably interfere with your military duties or adversely affect the readiness to perform your duties; OR,
- You are seventy years or older, and you request to be exempted from jury service.
You may also request to be excused from serving on a jury; however, being excused from jury duty does not mean that you will not be summoned to jury service in the future. Furthermore, a judge may excuse you from a specific term, but require you to serve on an upcoming jury term. To be excused from jury duty, you must demonstrate that serving on a jury would create an undue hardship or cause an extreme inconvenience.
How are Jury Pools Selected?
Potential jurors are selected randomly from the individuals who reside in the county or city in which the court has jurisdiction. Jury offices use several lists to identify potential jurors. In Maryland, the voter registration list and the Motor Vehicle Administration’s lists of individuals who have been issued a Maryland driver’s license or identification card.
Choosing a Jury for a Trial in Maryland
Selecting a jury for a trial can be a complex process. Each side has a strategy for choosing jurors they believe will rule in their favor. In most states, attorneys may ask potential jurors questions as part of the process of choosing which members of the jury pool will serve as jurors in the case.
However, Maryland is one of the very few states that do not allow attorneys to ask questions during this process. Attorneys in Maryland may submit written questions to the judge. The judge, in his or her sole discretion, may ask some or all of the questions. In very few cases are attorneys permitted to request follow up questions.
Therefore, trial attorneys must rely on other strategies to select jurors. The skilled and experienced trial attorneys of Pinder Plotkin utilize all available resources when selecting a jury. Our experience can be a valuable asset in a criminal case or a civil case.
Contact a Parkville Litigation Attorney for More Information
If you have been charged with a crime or you are involved in a contested civil matter, the Pinder Plotkin legal team is ready to defend your legal rights aggressively.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-661-9440 to schedule your free consultation with a Parkville litigation attorney.
The information provided in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information contained in this blog is also subject to change and should not be relied upon. Contact the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team for a FREE consultation.