In the judicial system of the United States, those charged with a crime have a right to a trial by a jury of their peers. After the attorneys have concluded their cases, the jury elects one of its members to serve as foreman to lead the discussion of the verdict. The foreman is responsible to ensure that the deliberation is conducted fairly and that the proper verdict is determined based on the evidence presented in court.
Once elected by his peers, the foreman establishes a procedure for the deliberations. He will decide how the evidence and the points made by the attorneys during the trial will be reviewed, ensure that all pertinent information is covered and that no important evidence is left out of the discussion. He will also ask for clarification from the judge concerning points of the law.
The foreman will lead the discussion of the various points of the case. In some instances, disputes will arise between jury members who disagree on interpretation of the evidence, or even on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The foreman must intervene and attempt to resolve the dispute so that the deliberation process stays on track.
Polling the Jury
When the foreman feels that all of the evidence has been thoroughly reviewed, she will take a vote of the jury members as to the defendant's guilt or innocence. If the jury does not reach a unanimous verdict, she may ask jury members to explain their votes to determine where they differ. This process will continue until a unanimous verdict is reached.
Notifying the Judge
When deliberations have concluded and the jury has reached a unanimous verdict on all charges, the foreman will send word to the judge that a verdict has been reached. The judge will then reconvene the court so that the verdict can be announced.
Announcing the Verdict
Once court is back in session, the judge will ask the jury foreman to rise and announce the verdict. The judge will read each charge against the defendant and the foreman will respond with "Guilty" or "Not guilty." Some jurisdictions call for the foreman to write the decision on a verdict form, which is then read aloud by the judge.