ORIENTATION TO JURY SERVICE
Citizens summoned to jury service in the Colorado Springs Municipal Court are asked to take a day out of their busy lives and participate in a fundamental obligation of citizenship in our American democracy. A jurors job is to serve as the ultimate finder of fact in a court trial. If you have been summoned to serve, here is what you can reasonably expect to happen.
Jurors are instructed to call the court at (719) 385-5926 and listen to a recorded message prior to reporting. This message contains reporting instructions and is updated the afternoon before your jury service date. There are times that not all jurors summoned need to report for service. Calling and listening to this message eliminates the inconvenience of your unnecessarily appearing the morning of trial.
Prospective jurors are asked to report to the jury assembly room (Room 120) of the Robert M. Isaac Municipal Court building by 08:30 am. Please park in the city parking garage located on the southwest corner of Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue. Bring the parking garage entry ticket with you and present it to the jury clerk. She will validate it for you; parking will be free.
All who enter the courthouse pass through a metal detector and security screening. This is done for everyones protection remember, this is a courthouse. Room 120 is close to the building entrance on the first floor.
Upon arrival at Room 120, please check in with the jury clerk. She will be located to your left as you enter the room. She will ask for your completed questionnaire, which was included in your jury summons. She will also pay you the statutory sum of $5.00 for your service.
After check-in, you will wait with others in the assembly room. Coffee, donuts and bagels will be provided. Magazines will be available, as will cable TV. Secure restroom facilities are located on the east side of the assembly room.
Courtrooms will begin calling for jurors at about 09:00 am. Municipal court schedules almost all of its jury trials on Fridays to assure the best utilization of your time. Generally, two or more courtrooms will be calling for jurors, but, occasionally, only a single courtroom may call. If there are a lot of people in the assembly room with you expect multiple courtrooms to call.
It is also possible that none will call. Sometimes the mere presence of potential jurors in the building will cause cases to settle. When this happens, you will be permitted to leave early. Even though you do not serve, by simply reporting for service you may help this court close its cases.
If a courtroom does call for a jury, the jury clerk will call names and assemble the members of the jury panel. A clerk from the courtroom will come down and escort the panel to the courtroom.
Trial juries in municipal courts are composed of either three or six people. In addition to the three or six people needed to serve on the jury, the jury panel also has an additional six or seven other members, making the whole panel consist of a total of from nine to thirteen. Everyone in the panel will be seated in the first few rows of courtroom benches for voir dire, or questioning.
Colorado is a mandatory strike state. That means after questioning, six prospective jurors MUST be excused from the panel. These are Preemptory Challenges in which both sides will excuse jurors without stating a reason. If you are excused from the panel, please do not take offense. Please do not consider being excused as any reflection on your ability to serve as a juror. In many cases, both sides would like to keep all panel members for the jury; nevertheless, six panel members must be excused. The remaining three or six will constitute the jury.
Voir Dire is the term used to describe the questioning period. Questions will be asked of you by the judge as well as by the prosecution and defense. The City Attorney represents the City of Colorado Springs and is also called "the prosecution", and sometimes "the City." An attorney may also represent the defendant the person charged with violating the law. Sometimes the defendant will not have an attorney and will represent himself or herself in the trial.
Defendants in municipal court have been charged with violating either a city traffic regulation or city criminal ordinance. Common charges include: speeding, illegal lane changes, driving without insurance, harassment, fighting, etc. The charge against the defendant is contained in a document called a Complaint. While some of these charges may seem minor at first glance, they are very important to the person charged.
After the questioning has been completed, each side will alternatively strike three names from the panel. Those six people and any extra panel members will be excused from service on that jury. The remaining three or six will constitute the jury and will be seated in the jury box.
If you are excused from service on a jury, you will return to the jury assembly room to await call for another trial in another courtroom. You should know by noon whether or not you will actually be selected to serve on a trial jury. Once all trial jurors have been selected for the day, the remainder are be free to leave. The municipal court makes every effort to release jurors as soon as possible.
Most trials in municipal court are completed in a single day. Once you are selected to serve as a juror and seated, you and the other members of the jury will take an oath. The judge will then give you some instructions on what you may and may not do during breaks in the trial. The judge may also be able to give you a better idea of how long the trial is expected to last and may give you the opportunity to make a phone call to inform your family and employer about your selection as a juror.
As you look around the courtroom, you will notice the judge, a clerk, the attorneys and spectators in the audience. During the trial, a marshal may also periodically appear in the courtroom to monitor security. This is routine and you should attach no significance to the marshals presence. Surveillance cameras also centrally monitor activity in each courtroom, allowing the more efficient assignment of deputies. In the unlikely event of a disturbance in the courtroom, rest assured that plenty of marshals will arrive in very short order. You will also notice the absence of the court reporter that is often seen on TV and in other courts. In municipal court, all trial proceedings are recorded and any transcripts that may be needed are typed by our staff from these recordings. This method is one way we reduce the cost of conducting trials.
At the beginning of the trial the judge may give you some instructions outlining the trial process. For your convenience, a notebook and pen will have been placed by your chair in the jury box. Colorado law allows jurors to take notes. The judge will also give you instructions about taking notes.
At the start of the trial, each side has an opportunity to make an Opening Statement. Opening statements are not evidence. They are simply an overview by each side; they are arguments as to what each side feels the evidence at trial will or will not show.
After the opening statements, the prosecution will present its case. The City Attorney will ask one or more witnesses to come forward and testify under oath about what they know of the events in question. In many cases, and almost always in traffic cases, these witnesses will include police officers. After the prosecution is done questioning the witness (this is called "direct examination") the defense will have an opportunity to ask questions of the witness in what is called "cross examination." Testimony given by witnesses is evidence, whether it is the result of direct or cross-examination and whether the prosecution or defense calls that witness. As a juror you are charged with listening carefully to the testimony of all of the witnesses. You are also charged with assessing the credibility of each witness. The judge will give you more detailed instructions on these things at the trial.
When the prosecution completes its case it will announce that it rests, and the judge will probably declare a recess or break in the trial. You will then be excused from the courtroom.
When you return, the defense will be given an opportunity to call any additional witnesses it wishes. The defense is under no obligation to present any additional evidence. It is important to remember at this point that the burden of proof of the defendants guilt of the offense charged in the complaint remains with the prosecution throughout the trial. And the standard of proof the prosecution must meet is "beyond a reasonable doubt." Moreover, throughout the trial, the jury must give the defendant the benefit of the presumption of innocence. The defendant is under no obligation to present any additional witnesses or evidence. The defendant is under no obligation to testify. If the defendant does not testify, you are not allowed to draw any inference as to guilt from the decision not to testify. Again, the judge will give you more detailed instructions about this at the trial.
During the trial both sides may raise objections to questions, testimony or other offered evidence. The judge will rule on these objections. If an objection is sustained, that means the judge finds the objection valid and you must disregard what was said. If the judge overrules the objection, then the question posed may be answered. One of the judges primary jobs during a jury trial is assuring that the jury considers only that evidence admissible under the Colorado Rules of Evidence. The rules of evidence are complex, and reasonable people can disagree over their proper application, so both sides are obligated to object when they think it is appropriate. You should not hold this against them.
There may be times that an objection is raised and the judge will ask the jury to be excused from the room before ruling on the objection. This often occurs when additional testimony is needed before the judge can properly rule on the issue. This occurs outside the presence of the jury. The jury will be taken to a deliberation room to wait until the court is ready for their return.
At the discretion of the judge, jurors may be allowed to submit questions to be asked of a witness. If the judge allows this procedure, you will be given more detailed instructions on how it will be done.
When the defense has completed its presentation it will announce that it, too, rests. If the defense presented any additional testimony or other evidence, the prosecution will then be allowed an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence, subject to cross examination by the defense. At the conclusion of any rebuttal evidence, the prosecution will again rest and that will conclude the presentation of evidence.
The judge will then instruct you about the law that governs the case you are deciding, including the burden and standard of proof and the presumption of innocence. The judge will also instruct you on the nature of different sorts of evidence and about your considerations on the credibility of witnesses. The judge will give you other instructions defining certain terms you are to consider and governing your deliberations. Please pay close attention to the judges instructions.
Each side will then be given the opportunity to make a Closing Argument. Like the opening statement, the closing argument is not evidence. Closing arguments are simply summations by each side of what they believe the evidence has shown or failed to show.
The judge will then give you some further brief instructions, explain the verdict forms, give the clerk an oath to watch over you during your deliberations and then excuse you to go to the jury deliberation room. When you retire to the deliberation room, you will be given the verdict forms, exhibits and all instructions. You will also be asked to select a foreperson and asked to reach a unanimous conclusion, either way Guilty or Not Guilty.
A clerk will wait outside the door to the deliberation room while you are inside. When you have completed your deliberations and reached a verdict, there is a light for you to turn on to inform the clerk that you are ready to return to the courtroom.
After you return to the courtroom and render your verdict, you will be excused from service. The judge will give you an instruction on whether or not you choose to talk with anyone about your service as a juror on the case and how to handle things should someone persist in asking you about your verdict. You will not be subject to recall by this court for two years. Please be assured that all involved are sincerely grateful to you for taking the time to participate in our ancient and valuable tradition of trial by jury. Thank you!