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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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Juror Information

Juror Behavior

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 all the evidence, the result of your being late is a delay and inconvenient to the judge, the lawyers, the parties, the witnesses 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 bailiff.

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, which 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 bailiff.

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.

Only on rare occasions are members of a jury required to be kept together and away from home during the course of the trial. This is called sequestration. Sequestration occurs in cases involving considerable public interest and is resorted to by the judge when it is deemed necessary to protect the jury from undue exposure to publicity about the trial. While sequestration may be inconvenient, the juror must realize that the judge has determined the measure necessary to assure that justice is done. When the jury must be kept together, the court will see to it that your family is notified, and every possible effort will be taken to ensure your comfort.

In some instances, after the jury has been selected and the case partially tried, the parties may settle the case or, in a criminal matter, 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 by the defendant. 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 any 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.