The Jury Management Office is responsible for all areas involving the jury pool.
The Judges of the 14th Judicial District Court, the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court and the Jury Management Staff, welcome you and congratulate you as a fellow participant in the administration of justice.
The jury system - the right to trial by a jury of your peers - is the cornerstone of American justice and, as a Juror; you will actually be a Judge and make a substantial contribution to the American justice system.
The Judges know that your time is valuable and that you are putting aside many important tasks in order to do your civic duty and serve as a Juror and we are sure that you will find your jury service has been a fruitful and rewarding experience.
Before you arrive at the courthouse, we take every step within our power to see that the cases set for trial during your jury service are ready to go to trial. However, with the crowded dockets of today, in Lake Charles, there are often conflicts in the schedules of the Judges and the Attorneys involved, and there are often some preliminary matters still pending in a given case which must be disposed of before the jury is called - witnesses sometimes do not show up and must be located, last minute motions are filed by Attorneys and a myriad of other things may happen which require some delay before the jury panel can be called to the courtroom.
The Judge respectfully requests your indulgence in these matters, which are unavoidable and hope that you will understand if you must wait, sometimes for considerable periods, before being called. We assure you we do everything possible to make your jury service as short and efficient as possible.
HOW JURORS ARE SELECTED
The names of all registered voters of Calcasieu Parish are placed into the Clerk of Court computer once a year. The computer first eliminates duplicate names, and then uses a random selection formula to choose the names of people who will receive a subpoena for jury duty. The Calcasieu Parish Jury commission, composed of five members, supervises the selection of Jurors.
EXEMPTIONS & QUALIFICATIONS
The Supreme Court of Louisiana has established certain categories of persons who may claim an exemption from jury service. These are:
One must expressly claim an exemption. It is not automatically granted.If you wish to claim one of these exemptions, you must send a letter explaining your circumstances. Include your address and phone number in the letter. SEE BELOW FOR JURY OFFICE ADDRESS
NOTE: Public officers, physicians, lawyers, judges, members of the (1) armed forces, (2) police and fire departments, and (3) clergy, are no longer exempt.
Louisiana law provides that a potential Juror must meet certain qualifications to be eligible to serve on a jury. These requirements are that a prospective Juror:
1) Must be a citizen of the United States and Louisiana and must have resided in Calcasieu Parish for at least one year before serving as a Juror;
2) Must be at least eighteen years old;
3) Must be able to read, write and speak the English language;
4) Must not be incapable of serving as a Juror because of a mental or physical infirmity, provided that no person shall be deemed incompetent solely because of the loss of hearing to any degree
(a written medical excuse from your doctor is required);
5) Must not be under indictment for a felony, nor convicted of a felony for which a pardon has not been granted.
Mail your letter when claiming an exemption or disqualification to the
1001 LAKESHORE DRIVE
LAKE CHARLES, LA 70601
NO EXEMPTIONS OR POSTPONEMENTS CAN BE GRANTED AFTER THE WEDNESDAY PRECEDING YOUR FIRST DAY OF SERVICE. The court will make a decision on your claim and notify you.
YOUR ROLL AS A JUROR
Prior to being called to Court you will be instructed to wait in the Jury Pool Room located on the 1st floor of the Calcasieu Parish Judicial Center. There is a television and some reading materials. You may want to bring a light sweater or jacket and bring your own reading materials. The building does have a snack bar.
When you are sent to a court room, you need only to act the way most people naturally act; be alert, courteous and honest about your feelings and opinions on issues.
In the event that you are seated as a Juror, give your undivided attention to the evidence that is presented. In that Courtroom you are to follow the orders and instructions of the Judge presiding over that Court. Above all, remember, that it is your duty to make an impartial decision based on the evidence and information that is set before you.
If you have any problem (such as being unable to hear a witness), any urgent questions or requests, you may ask the Bailiff to notify the Judge, who will handle your request.
After you have heard all the evidence, and each Attorney has summed up his case, the Judge will instruct you on the law that applies to the facts you will consider. You will then be escorted to the Jury Deliberation Room where you and your fellow Jurors will deliberate. Don't be afraid to speak out as you and your fellow Jurors go over the evidence. At the same time, respect the opinions of others when they seem reasonable. If your fellow Jurors can show you that your viewpoint isn't sound, yield gracefully. But if you honestly believe your reasoning is better, hold firm. The whole concept of a jury is based on the assumption that the people on it will come to a decision after full and frank discussion, and calm, unbiased reasoning.
SEQUENCE OF A TRIAL
After reporting to the Jury Pool Room you may be sent to a court room. The Judge will tell you the names of the parties, the lawyers who will represent each, and the nature of the legal action.
You will then be questioned by the Attorneys and Court to insure that you can be impartial and objective about the issues in the case. This is called Voir Dire. Each Attorney may challenge "for cause." This means that for some reason (your occupation, your opinion or certain issues, your knowledge of the case, etc.), it might be unfair to ask you to be impartial in the case at hand, and the Judge may excuse you from service in this particular trial. Each Attorney also is allowed by law a limited number of "peremptory challenges." This means he may ask the Court to excuse some prospective Jurors without stating any reason. (If you are challenged, please keep in mind that this request is not on a personal basis, rather the Attorney is merely using a right given to him by law.)
At the end of the Voir Dire a number of people will be seated to form the Jury, and the trial begins. (In some cases it may be a "six-person" jury, in others it may be a "twelve-person" jury.)
The Plaintiff's Attorney (in civil case) or the District Attorney (in criminal cases) will make an opening statement telling you what he intends to prove. The Attorney for the defense may also make an opening statement at this point or may not.
After the opening statements, the side bringing the suit, (i.e., the Plaintiff or the D.A.), will present its evidence with witnesses, documents or other exhibits. When that party is through questioning one witness, the defense Attorney may cross-examine. There are special rules of law governing what may be asked of a witness, how the witness may respond, and what the Jury may properly consider as evidence. From time to time, an Attorney may 'object' to some testimony or procedure. The Judge may ask the lawyers to approach the bench to discuss the matter, or it may be debated in your hearing. In either case, the Judge will rule on all questions of law, and will tell you how the law requires you to treat a particular situation.
When both sides have presented their evidence and defenses, each Attorney will sum up his case. He tells what he believes the evidence shows and why it favors his side. Of course, these presentations by the lawyers are not evidence.
After the closing arguments, the Judge will instruct you on your duties as a Juror. He will also instruct you as to the law in this particular case; what verdicts can be rendered. You and your fellow Jurors will then be escorted to the Jury Deliberation Room.
At this time, you will select one Juror to be your foreperson. This person will preside over your deliberations, and will bring the verdict into court. In may case one of the parties will ask, or the Court will order, the Jury be polled. This means the court will ask each Juror individually if this is his or her own verdict.
The Judge presiding over the case will then thank you and dismiss you. When dismissed you report back to the Jury Pool Room for further instructions.
Bailiff - the official in each courtroom who attends the needs and comforts of the Judges, Jurors, and the court in general.
Bench - the seat occupied by Judges in court.
Bill of Information - a formal charge of violation of a criminal statute made against a person by the District Attorney, and presented to a court.
Challenge - during the selection of a particular jury (see voir dire) Attorneys for either side may wish to suggest to the court that certain individuals be excused from service for this particular jury. There are two types of challenges. A) A challenge for cause is made when an Attorney believes that the individual being challenged is in some way not properly qualified to serve on a particular case. For example, a person who was recently a party to a personal injury suit or who is a relative of the Attorneys or parties in the present suit, may find it difficult or impossible to be completely objective about the present case. The Judge makes the decision as to the validity of a challenge for cause. b) A peremptory challenge is a challenge exercised by an Attorney without a stated reason. The Judge automatically grants a peremptory challenge. Each side in a case has a limited number of peremptory challenges, which it may exercise if it so chooses.
Chambers - The private room or office of a Judge.
Civil law - civil trials, as distinguished from criminal trials, deal with disputes between individuals, corporation, and/or other private entities or public entities such as the City-Parish or State, in which no violation of a specific criminal law is charged.
Criminal law - that law dealing with actions or omissions which have been identified by a legislative body as being contrary to the public interest, and to which specific criminal penalties have been attached.
Cross-examination - examination of a witness by the party opposed to the one who produced him, in order to further develop and test the truth of his testimony.
Defendant - in a civil action, the party against whom suit is brought; the party who is being sued. In a criminal case, the Defendant is the person who is charged with violation of a criminal statute.
Direct-examination - the first examination of a witness by the party on whose behalf he is called.
Expert witness - a person qualified to speak authoritatively on a certain subject on the basis of skill, training or experience. The court is responsible for determination the qualifications of an expert witness may, within his field of expertise, offer opinions as well as observations.
Grand Jury - a special jury which serves a period of six to eight months as a body to inquire into complaints and accusations of violations of criminal laws. Grand Juries may hear testimony and receive evidence, and may bring charges in the form of an indictment against individuals. Grand do not find innocence or guilt; it simply determines whether or not sufficient evidence exists to bring formal charges before the court.
Indictment - a formal accusation, by a grand jury, that a person has violated one or more specific criminal statues. The charge is presented to a court.
Instructions - the directions given by the Judge to the jury concerning the law which applies in the case at hand, and the manner in which the jury is to apply it to the facts as they find them.
Intervenor - a person who voluntarily enters an action or other proceeding, with the leave of the court.
Jury pool - a randomly chosen group of qualified individuals from which individual jury panels are chosen.
Jury term - the length of time for which a citizen serves in a jury pool.
Motion - a formal request to the court by an Attorney for a specific action by the court. Example: "Your Honor, defense moves that the last testimony be stricken from the record."
Objection - in a trial, a lawyer may object (or raise an objection) to a procedure or action in the trial (such as an attempt to introduce certain evidence or to elicit certain testimony) which that lawyer feels should not be permitted under the rules of law which govern the conduct of trials The Judge will make a decision as to whether or not the objection is to be sustained or overruled.
Panel - a specific group of prospective Jurors from which the jury for a specific case will be chosen. The jury pool is for convenience divided up into panels, which are sent to each court room as the need arises.
Petit Jury - a jury of individuals who determine the facts and render a verdict thereon in a particular criminal trial.
Plaintiff - in a civil action, the person who brings a petition to the court; the party who initiates the action by filing suit.
Plea - a Defendant's statement, answering the charges against him, or showing why he should not answer.
Settlement - an agreement by which parties having disputed matters between them reach an agreement which concludes the dispute without going to trial.
Statute - a written law, enacted by a legislative body (city council, state legislature, U.S. Congress)
Verdict - the formal decision of the jury. In a criminal case, the decision relates to the guilt or innocence of the Defendant. In a civil suit, the decision is whether or not the Plaintiff has proved his case against the Defendant, and may also include findings as to the amount of damage suffered.
Voir Dire - prospective Jurors, prior to being sworn in to serve in a trial, are questioned by the Judge and the Attorneys in that case in order to determine whether they are competent and qualified to hear the particular case in question.
Witness - a person who testifies under oath to what he has seen, heard, or otherwise observed, and whose statement is received as part of the evidence in the case.
LIST OF PERSONNEL AND THEIR FUNCTIONS IN COURT
- Judge - an officer who is elected to preside and to administer the law in a court of justice.
- District Attorney - (D.A.) - the prosecuting officer who represents the state in criminal trials, or ...
- Plaintiff - the party who complains or sues in a civil action.
- Defendant - the party summoned to answer a charge or complaint in civil or criminal law; the party against whom an action or suit is filed.
- Lawyer - (Attorney, Counsel) the legal representative of a party in a trial.
- Bailiff - an administrative officer of the court who attends to the needs of the Judge, Jurors, witnesses, and court.
- Court Reporter - a person responsible for the taking and transcribing of formal or official presentations of facts, evidence, and legal procedures in a trial.
- Minute Clerk - a deputy clerk of court who administers the oath to Jurors and witnesses and who's duty it is to keep the minutes of the court.
- Witness - a person who gives testimony concerning the issue being