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Jury Sequestration

Judges will have members of a jury sequestered or kept together in order to protect juries from outside influences This includes any communication with persons not allowed to be in contact with the jurors as well as the content of news reports concerning the case. Courts view sequestration as a great burden on the personal lives of the jurors as well as the cost involved, and it is used, therefore, only if the lawyer for the defense is able to show the judge there is prejudice in the surrounding community against the defendant, or that news reports would prevent members of the jury from being impartial. While even criminal defendants do not have the right to have the jury sequestered, it may be required under state law where a defendant could be sentenced to death.

Sequestration is more common in criminal than in civil trials and is likely to be imposed once the jury has been selected. In a civil trial, jurors are not sequestered until the jury has heard all of the evidence and has received their instructions from the judge.

Once a jury is sequestered, strict measures are imposed to insure their objectivity. For example, jurors are not allowed to use a public restroom without a court bailiff or marshal being present. Receiving and making telephone calls is forbidden but will not result in a trial verdict being reversed by a higher court so long as the court officer can hear the conversation and nothing pertaining to the case is mentioned. Jurors must also be transported as a group, eat together, and sleep at the same lodging.

Inside Jury Sequestration