What are jury deliberations?
After all the witnesses have testified and the lawyers have made their arguments, the judge swears the bailiff in to take the jury to deliberate.
Specifically, in a California criminal jury trial the judge instructs the jury about deliberations just before sending them to deliberate:
“When you go to the jury room, the first thing you should do is choose a
foreperson. The foreperson should see to it that your discussions are
carried on in an organized way and that everyone has a fair chance to
It is your duty to talk with one another and to deliberate in the jury
room. You should try to agree on a verdict if you can. Each of you must
decide the case for yourself, but only after you have discussed the
evidence with the other jurors. Do not hesitate to change your mind if
you become convinced that you are wrong. But do not change your mind
just because other jurors disagree with you.
Keep an open mind and openly exchange your thoughts and ideas about
this case. Stating your opinions too strongly at the beginning or
immediately announcing how you plan to vote may interfere with an
open discussion. Please treat one another courteously. Your role is to be
an impartial judge of the facts, not to act as an advocate for one side or
As I told you at the beginning of the trial, do not talk about the case or
about any of the people or any subject involved in it with anyone,
including, but not limited to, your spouse or other family, or friends,
spiritual leaders or advisors, or therapists. You must discuss the case
only in the jury room and only when all jurors are present. Do not
discuss your deliberations with anyone. Do not communicate using:
<insert currently popular social media> during your
It is very important that you not use the Internet (, a dictionary/[, or
<insert other relevant source of information>]) in any way in
connection with this case during your deliberations.
During the trial, several items were received into evidence as exhibits.
You may examine whatever exhibits you think will help you in your
deliberations. (These exhibits will be sent into the jury room with you
when you begin to deliberate./ If you wish to see any exhibits, please
request them in writing.)
If you need to communicate with me while you are deliberating, send a
note through the bailiff, signed by the foreperson or by one or more
members of the jury. To have a complete record of this trial, it is important that you not communicate with me except by a written note.
If you have questions, I will talk with the attorneys before I answer so it
may take some time. You should continue your deliberations while you
wait for my answer. I will answer any questions in writing or orally here
in open court.
Do not reveal to me or anyone else how the vote stands on the (question
of guilt/[or] issues in this case) unless I ask you to do so.
Your verdict [on each count and any special findings] must be
unanimous. This means that, to return a verdict, all of you must agree to
it. [Do not reach a decision by the flip of a coin or by any similar act.]
<During a retrial, give the following paragraph on request to inform jury
about prior proceedings without introducing extraneous matters>
[Sometimes issues are tried in separate trials. The only issue in this trial
is whether the People have proved the charge[s] of <insert
description of charge[s]> [in Count[s] ]. Do not speculate about
whether the defendant was already found guilty for (his/her) conduct or
may be found guilty in the future in another trial. Do not consider any
It is not my role to tell you what your verdict should be. [Do not take
anything I said or did during the trial as an indication of what I think
about the facts, the witnesses, or what your verdict should be.]
You must reach your verdict without any consideration of punishment.
You will be given [a] verdict form[s]. As soon as all jurors have agreed
on a verdict, the foreperson must date and sign the appropriate verdict
form[s] and notify the bailiff. [If you are able to reach a unanimous
decision on only one or only some of the (charges/ [or] defendants), fill in
(that/those) verdict form[s] only, and notify the bailiff.] Return any
unsigned verdict form.”
Sometimes the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision. This is called a hung jury. In that case, the judge declares a mistrial and the accused may be re-tried.