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At the courthouse

In this section we explain what happens when you arrive at the courthouse in response to the summons to jury service.

Selection of jurors

All those summonsed for jury service must attend in court on the first day the panel is formed.

In order to select a panel of twelve jurors for a particular case, names are drawn out of a ballot box. If your name is called, go to the jury box.

Even though you are called for jury service, you may not actually serve. Usually more people than necessary are called. You must return to court every day, whether or not you are sworn onto a jury, unless otherwise directed by the court.

Swearing-in

You do not become a juror until you have been called into the jury box, and until you have either sworn or affirmed that you will try the issues and return a true verdict, according to the evidence.

Challenges

An accused person may 'challenge' up to seven prospective jurors, without giving any reason. The prosecution may also 'challenge' seven prospective jurors. If your presence on the jury is successfully challenged, you will be required to step down.

You should not let this upset you, as it is not a personal reflection on you. Challenges are allowed to ensure that there is absolute fairness in the proceedings.

If you are challenged without a reason being given you must leave the jury box. You may be called to serve on another jury in a different courtroom later.

If you are challenged with reason, it is the judge who decides whether or not you will serve.

If you know the accused person, a witness or anyone taking part in the trial, or if you are in any way connected with the case, you must let the judge know before you have been sworn or have affirmed. If you become aware of a connection after the trial has begun, you should immediately send a note to the judge through the foreman/forewoman of the jury.

Before the trial begins the jury must elect one of its members to be foreman/forewoman - that is the person who will deliver the verdict of the jury at the end of the trial.

Delay

Since it is not always possible to forecast when a particular case will start or how long it will last, you may sometimes have to wait at court for what may seem like an unnecessarily long time. Every effort is made by the court staff to see that the jurors are not kept waiting and to release, as soon as possible, those people not likely to be required to serve on a jury on a particular day.

A reserve of jurors is always needed to allow for possible illness, challenges etc. When delay occurs, as it sometimes must, please be patient. Every effort is made, where possible, to meet the needs and requirements of jurors. If a serious problem arises, such as an urgent need to telephone home, you should let the court registrar and garda officer know.

Length of jury service

Jury service normally lasts for at least 4 working days. You should consult the court registrar if you have any queries concerning the length of any trial for which you have been selected to serve as a juror.