Jury Law and Legal Definition
A jury is a panel of peers from the surrounding community called upon to decide a legal matter. When the laws of a state authorize or require the jury to ascertain or determine certain facts, to make certain findings or to fix the amount of damages, the value of property or the value of the use, hire or rent of property and a jury trial is waived or the court or judge trying the case is authorized to find and determine the facts as well as the law, then the word "jury" or "juries" may include the court or judge trying the case.
The counties of states usually form a jury commission to oversee persons selected for jury service, who are selected at random from a fair cross section of the population of the area served by the court, providing all qualified citizens with the opportunity to be considered for jury service in the state and enforcing the obligation to serve as jurors when summoned for that purpose.
The legal questions are determined by the judge presiding at the trial, who explains to the members of the jury how to apply the facts to the law in "jury instructions." The common number of jurors is 12 , but some states allow a smaller number if the parties agree. For a plaintiff to win a civil lawsuit with a jury, three-quarters of the jurors must find in the plaintiff's favor. Guilt or innocence in a criminal trial requires a unanimous decision of the jury, except two states allow a conviction with 10 of 12 jurors.