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It's More Than Just a Duty, It's Your Right! The Role of the Jury In a Criminal Case


One of the best and most important rights guaranteed by our great country is the right to a trial by jury enshrined in the Constitution. Despite this right being hundreds of years old, many people are confused as to what their role as jurors are and what they are supposed to do as a juror in a criminal case.

The judge in a criminal case is seen as the trier of law. The judge is the one who decides the law applicable and explains the rules to the jury. The role of the juror is to be the trier of fact. This means that it is up to the jury to decide what facts are true, what facts are false, which witnesses are credible, and which witnesses are not to be believed.

The reason why we have trials by jury is to protect the accused against government overreach. By allowing for a trial by jury, other citizens of the Commonwealth get to sit in judgment of the Commonwealth’s case. If and only if the Commonwealth’s case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt should you cast judgment on your fellow man.

Though both attorneys for the Commonwealth and the defense will be presenting compelling stories complete with their own theories of the case and compelling imagery, it is important to remember that a trial is not a storytelling contest. It is not up to the jury to determine which story is the most plausible or probable. Instead, the role of the jury is to assess the facts set forth by the Commonwealth. Did the Commonwealth prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt? That is the important question. There is no burden on the defense to prove anything.

Jury selection is an important part of any criminal trial. Jurors receive questionnaires in the mail with some basic form questions about their demographics and attitudes towards law enforcement and the trial system. Both the defense and the Commonwealth have access to these questionnaires. However, that is just the surface, and in choosing a good jury panel a competent attorney will want to know more. This is accomplished through a process known as voir dire, French for “to see, to speak” A good attorney wants to get to know who their potential jurors are (or at least find out as much as the judge will permit)!

Choosing a good jury is partially a matter of luck as to who is in the potential jury pool, and a matter of skill and experience in knowing what type of person makes a good juror. You want an open minded juror who will listen to the evidence and weigh it fairly, instead of someone close-minded who may judge you guilty before opening argument even begins. That’s why you need a good attorney to help you choose the people who will decide your case. Attorney Frank Walker is here to help. With years of experience in selecting juries and arguing jury trials, Attorney Walker can help you choose a favorable jury, and then fight for you to win their hearts and minds at trial. With offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV, Walker Law can be reached 24/7. Call us now at (412) 532.6805 for the Pittsburgh Office, and (304) 712-2089 for our office in Morgantown.