The person selected for the position of jury foreman is usually one with apparent good character, responsibility and some professional experience. To become a foreman, one may volunteer, be chosen by the judge or elected by other members of the jury. The jury foreman is the voice of the jury and, as such, has a number of responsibilities to meet.
Meet with other jurors in the jury room when it is time for deliberations. It is one of the foreman's responsibilities to make sure every member of the jury is present before the discussions can begin.
Lead the jury in discussions during the deliberations. Ensure that all the issues in the case are fully discussed in order to reach an appropriate verdict.
Make sure that the deliberations are conducted in an orderly fashion. The discussions should be open and free so that every juror can participate.
Remind the jury members to meet their responsibilities during deliberations. Every juror must state their views about the case, what they think the verdict should be and why.
Send a message to the judge when necessary. This will occur when the jury has a question, needs clarification, requires further guidance during deliberations or when the jury is ready with a verdict.
Ask for recorded testimony to be read back to the jury if necessary. This may be the next step when the jury cannot agree on what was said in a testimony and cannot continue with the deliberations. However, this would mean that the jury, parties, attorneys and the judge will have to return to court, so this request should only be made when necessary.
Have the members vote for the appropriate sentence. Every member must vote on each charge in the case. If this is a criminal case, all members must agree unanimously on the verdict. In a civil case the judge will let you know how many votes are needed for a verdict.
Count the votes to ensure that every juror has voted.
Fill out the verdict form when the jury has arrived at one. The form will have a "guilty" or "not guilty" blank for each charge. Check the appropriate blanks then sign the form on behalf of the jury.
Inform the bailiff when the jury is ready to announce a verdict. When returning to the court, you will be expected to take the signed verdict form as well as any other used, but unsigned, verdict forms.
Announce the jury's verdict to the court when prompted by the judge.
It may be useful to call for a "straw vote" early in the deliberations to get an idea of the extent to which jury members are in agreement.
Although the foreman is the voice of the jury, he has no authority over fellow jury members.
Tips and warnings
- It may be useful to call for a "straw vote" early in the deliberations to get an idea of the extent to which jury members are in agreement.