When the jury returns with its verdict, what does that mean?

In civil and criminal trials in the U.S., jurors are convened in order to come to a conclusion, or a formal finding of fact, on matters related to the case before them. This conclusion is most commonly referred to as a verdict.

The process of coming to a decision is called deliberation, and it typically begins after the judge has issued instructions to the jury regarding the applicable laws through which they have to consider the facts of the case. Once the jury has heard these instructions, they will meet in a jury chamber room where they must first elect a head juror, or foreperson, who will lead the deliberations. In civil trials, the jury most often just has to reach a majority opinion about the case.

In a civil trial, jurors will discuss the facts of the case, who is at fault, and also what financial damages, if any, either party should pay. Once the jury comes to its decision, they will notify the judge, who will call the parties back to court. The foreperson will be responsible for reading the verdict form, and then the judge will walk through a few formalities before dismissing the case. Both sides are able to request that the jury be polled or asked to state their agreement or disagreement of the final verdict. They may also ask to speak with jurors individually after the trial ends.

While both parties are able to file post-verdict legal motions, jurors are done with their civic duty and will not be called back regarding the case they have just concluded.


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