Municipal Court

Juror Information Pamphlet

As a member of the Clemson University community, you may be summoned to serve as a juror for Clemson University's Municipal Court. We have printed our Juror Information Pamphlet in its entirety for your information and reference.

Provided by Clemson University Municipal Court

You have been selected by law to act as an officer of this court by serving as a juror. Because this may be the first time that you have ever been called for jury service, this pamphlet of information has been provided you and you are urged to read it very carefully. The information in this pamphlet is not intended to take the place of the instructions given by the judge in any case. In the event of a conflict, the judge's instructions will prevail.

As citizens of South Carolina, and of the United States, each of us has an obligation to make a contribution to the American system of justice. You are now being called upon to participate in one of the cornerstones of the judicial process--trial by jury. The mandate of justice for all can only be achieved through the combined efforts of judges, lawyers and citizens serving as jurors. Your role as juror, as the "judge" of the facts, will require you to carry out your duties attentively, intelligently and fairly. Remember, your vote, as a juror is usually final.

Upon reaching the courthouse, jurors should report to the courtroom or juror room as instructed. Every reasonable effort will be made by the court to make your service as a juror, comfortable and without inconvenience. Cases set for trial may be postponed or settled just as they are scheduled to begin, which causes delays. Please help the court operate more smoothly by being patient and cooperative and by being on time as instructed. It may happen that during your service as a juror you may never be called upon to actually sit in on the trial of a case--but your very presence and availability as a juror is a contribution of inestimable importance.

Roll Call

The juror's roll call is held in the courtroom or jury room to which you were instructed to report. When your name is called, you should be prepared to stand and give your name, occupation and if married, your spouse's occupation. After the roll call, the presiding judge may ask certain questions to determine whether each juror is qualified to serve as a juror. At the end of the day, you should make sure that you understand when you are to report for service during the week.

Selection of the Jury

The first step in the actual trial of a jury case is the selection from the jury panel of the number of jurors required to try the case. In a summary court or municipal court, the jury panel consists of six, plus an alternate. At the beginning of this process, there are usually from thirty to fifty prospective jurors present in the courtroom.

The juror selection process in any particular case usually begins with a brief explanation by the judge of the general nature of the case and the names of the parties and their attorneys. The judge then begins the procedure by the questioning of the jurors so as to determine their fitness to serve as a juror. Some questions may be directed to all the jurors at once, while others may be directed to individual jurors. The types of questions asked are determined by the judge with suggestions from the attorneys representing the parties and may inquire as to whether a juror has any knowledge of the case. The questioning process called, voir dire, is designed to permit the attorneys to become acquainted with the prospective jurors and to determine whether a juror can serve fairly and impartially in the case.

If during the questioning a prospective juror indicates by his answer that he or she is not legally qualified to act as a juror (as for instance, if the juror was related to or employed by one of the parties), that juror may be excused "for cause". This excuse "for cause" may be on the judge's initiative or upon motion of one of the party's attorneys, but there is no limit to the number of jurors who may be excused for cause. After voir dire has been concluded, the attorneys may finally choose their jury by exercising a certain number of "peremptory challenges". This means that each attorney may excuse a certain number of jurors without having to show a reason. A juror who is challenged and thereby excused from service should not be offended, as each attorney has a different idea as to the type of juror that would be most beneficial to the trial of the case. In criminal cases, the clerk will call out a name and number and the State or Prosecutor, will say either (1) "Excuse the juror," in which event the juror sits down or (2) "Present the juror" or "Swear the juror". Then the Defendant or the defendant's attorney may say (1) "Excuse the juror," in which event the juror takes his or her seat, or (2) "Swear the juror." The clerk of court records the name on the jury selection form until a complete panel has been selected.

The Stages of Trial

The trial of both civil and criminal cases is conducted under similar rules of procedures and in much the same manner. The stages of trial usually include the following:

  1. Opening Statements
    • An opening statement is made first by a representative of the State, then by the attorney for the defendant. The purpose of this opening statement is to outline to the jury the facts of the case and what each side will attempt to establish through the presentation of evidence. This is only an explanation of what each side claims.
  2. Presentation of Evidence
    • After both sides have been given the opportunity to make opening statements, the trial moves to the stage in which evidence is presented by each side. The State first presents all the evidence that supports its contentions, and is then followed by the defendant who presents his evidence. The State may then give evidence to disprove or explain some evidence presented by the defendant. Evidence may be in the form of a written document, an object, a photograph, or a x-ray. Such pieces of evidence are called exhibits. This physical evidence will be taken with you to the jury room, and may be considered in your deliberation.
    • Most evidence is presented in the form of spoken testimony of witnesses who have taken an oath to tell the truth. The attorney who has called the witness first asks questions of that witness called direct examination. After direct examination is concluded, the lawyer for the other party may cross-examine, or ask further questions of that witness. After cross-examination, the lawyer who called the witness has a final opportunity to ask questions, which is called re-direct examination.
    • You should pay close attention to each witness as he testifies, not only to what he says but his manner and actions. If at any time you are unable to hear clearly, make the judge aware of the problem by raising a hand.
    • From time to time during the trial, you may hear the attorneys make what are known as "objections". Objections may be made for several reasons, including objections to the conduct of the parties or their attorneys, to the form of a question during the examination of a witness, or to the introduction of evidence. If the objection is deemed improper or not well founded by the judge, he will "overrule" it, and allow the proceedings to continue or the evidence to be introduced. If on the other hand, the judge finds the objection to be valid and proper, he may "sustain" it, thereby discontinuing that conduct or question or may refuse to allow the introduction of evidence.
    • The judge is the sole authority on what evidence is proper. Since some evidence may be excluded, the jury is usually not allowed to hear arguments as to admissibility. Thus, the judge may send the jury out of the courtroom to allow the attorneys to argue to him whether the evidence should be admitted. Sometimes evidence gets before the jury before the attorney has a chance to object. The judge may order the jury to disregard such evidence completely, and if so ordered, it should be disregarded and not considered as evidence.
  3. Closing Arguments
    • After both sides have had an opportunity to present their evidence and have both "rested" their cases, they are given a chance to make final or closing arguments to the jury. First, the State, followed by the defendant's attorney make closing arguments in which they sum up the evidence and testimony and try to persuade the jury to find in favor of their respective clients. These arguments, like the opening statements, should be listened to attentively but should not be considered as evidence in themselves.
  4. Instruction
    • At the end of the final arguments by the lawyers, the judge will instruct you on the law that applies to the case, and you must apply that law to the facts as you find them in arriving at your verdict. You are bound under your oath to give full effect to the law as the judge states it to you. You must pay close attention to his instructions. If the judge should give you any instruction that is different from any statement in this pamphlet, you should accept his instruction as correct and be guided by it.
  5. Jury Deliberation
    • Following the instructions, or charge by the judge, the clerk will escort the jury to the jury room where you will conduct your deliberations. The foreperson designated by the judge presides during the deliberations. The foreperson acts as the chairman of the jury. It is his or her duty to see that discussion is carried on in a free and orderly manner, that the matters and issues submitted for your decision are fully and freely discussed, and that every juror is given an opportunity to express himself.
    • After you retire to the jury room, you are entitled to have all exhibits brought to you. Should you feel that its necessary to be re-instructed or receive additional instruction on the law or to have certain testimony read to you, you may so inform the judge through the clerk. You should not, however, make such requests lightly, for they can be answered only by returning the jury to the courtroom where the Court will resume in full session. The procedure may require considerable time, but is justifiable if you seriously believe it to be necessary or helpful to you in discharging your duty. Quite often in the jury room differences of opinion arise among the jurors. When this occurs, each juror should express his opinions and reasons therefore. By the process of careful and thorough reasoning, it is generally possible for jurors to reach a verdict. A juror should not hesitate to change his mind where there is good reason, but should not change that opinion unless he conscientiously is moved to do so as a result of the deliberations, via consideration of the views of his colleagues, and his own further thought on the matter.
    • It would be wrong for a juror to refuse to listen to the arguments and opinions of the others, or to deny the right of another juror to express his own opinions. All jurors should deliberate and vote on each issue to be decided. A juror should never vote against his conscience or his own judgment. He should vote only according to his own honest convictions, arrived at after a full and free discussion with his fellow jurors. After a verdict, or after a mistrial, or disagreement, jurors are under no duty or obligation to discuss what took place in the jury room with the lawyers in the case or anyone else.
  6. Behavior of Jurors During Trial
    • There are certain rules that a juror should follow throughout the trial. All jurors are required to be on time. Since each juror must hear the evidence, the result of your being late is delay and inconvenience to the judge, the lawyers, the parties, the witness and the other jurors. When a court session begins and the judge enters the courtroom, everyone, including jurors, should rise. You should give your undivided attention to every question and answer during the trial. If you are unable to hear clearly, you should notify the judge or the clerk.
    • Jurors should not discuss the case with their family, friends or any lawyer, party or witness in the case, nor should they allow it to be discussed in their presence. Furthermore, jurors should not discuss the case among themselves until such time as the judge sends them to the jury room to deliberate a verdict. If any person persists in talking to you about the trial or otherwise attempts to influence you as to its outcome, you should report that to the judge immediately. Often a case may involve an item or location familiar to the juror or readily accessible to him. A juror should never make an independent investigation or inspection of an item or location that is related to the case. If it is thought necessary and proper that the jury make such an inspection, the judge will send the jury as a group under the supervision of the clerk.
    • Jurors should not listen to radio or television accounts of the trial or read articles about it in a newspaper.
    • In most cases, a juror can leave to have lunch each day and go home each night, but he cannot discuss the case with anyone.
    • In some occasions, after the jury has been selected and the case partially tried, the defendant may plead guilty. It is the very presence of the jury that is responsible for the actual settlement of the case or the plea. In other cases, the judge may hand down a "Directed Verdict" which means that for some legal reason, the judge has determined that it is unnecessary to submit the case to the jury. This is the judge's decision and not yours. In the event, that a jury is unable to reach a verdict as required by law, the judge may declare a mistrial and the case will then have to be tried at another time before another jury.
    • In arriving at a verdict, jurors are expected to bring to bear all the experience, common sense and knowledge they possess in weighing the evidence, testimony and the law as charged. Jurors are expected not to rely on private sources of information as discussed above. Jurors should form no opinion until all the evidence is introduced, arguments presented, and instructions on the law are given.
  7. Compensation
    • The amount of per diem a juror may receive for his service varies. Everyone who serves as a juror whether he actually sits on a case or not is entitled to the same compensation. The court clerk generally makes payment of per diem.

      Information has been shared by Court Administration regarding a Jury Duty Scam. Our office will never call you and ask you to verify your social security number or date of birth over the phone. Please do not share this information with anyone who calls you.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at 864-656-5258.