Modern society has radically changed the landscape of work and labor. Today, you will find that every individual has clearly defined roles in whatever industry he is part of. This is not any different inside a courtroom. Every person in a courtroom has a clearly defined job to perform, starting from the Marshall to the court reporter.
However, two of the most important roles you find in a courtroom are those of the judge and the jury. In case you’ll one day find yourself in a jury trial, it will be helpful to know the primary roles of both the judge and the jury. Below are some of the most basic and important jobs they perform inside a courtroom.
Roles of the Judge
A judge wears many hats inside a courtroom. Her primary role in the pursuit of justice is to become an impartial and independent decision maker. Arguments are made by both the defendant and the plaintiff sides. Each side presents facts and evidence to the jury, in the hopes of winning the latter over to their side.
It is the judge’s role to oversee all of this without any bias. Secondly, the judge is the ruler of the courtroom. She decides on a lot of matters such as courtroom procedures and legal issues to include ruling objections to evidence. In other words, the judge has the discerning task of either sustaining or overruling an objection to evidence. This means she can declare whether a piece of evidence is permissible in court (or relevant in the case) or not.
Another duty of the judge is to act as guidance to the jury. Before the jury makes the final verdict, the judge instructs them on the rules of law so that they make well-informed decisions that carry out justice.
Roles of the Jury
A jury is brought together for the purpose of determining whether someone is liable or not liable in a case based on the evidence that has been presented in court. The jury is considered as “The Trier of Fact” in legal jargon, which simply means that if they find a defendant liable, they must also determine the amount of damages he must pay. The number of people in a jury varies, but most frequently, you find it to be twelve in criminal cases and less than twelve in civil cases.
There are a number of cases where a jury is not permitted. There are also other instances where both parties waive their trial by jury. A trial where there is no jury for whatever reason is called a bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge plays two roles: the normal role of a judge and the role of a trier of fact. She decides both legal and factual issues.
It may appear more streamlined to waive trial by jury, but it also has its handicaps. The greatest danger is the fact that all decisions rest in the hands of a single person, and this situation can expose the judge to influence and bias. Which kind of trial is the better one? That’s up to you to judge. It is hoped that the information above has helped clarify the basic roles of a judge and the jury in a courtroom.