Circuit Court 16th Judicial Dist Division 3

 

505 Rutherford County Judicial Building
20 Public Square North
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

Phone: (615) 898-8074
Fax: (615) 898-8013

The Jury System

 

“That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate and no religious or political test shall ever be required as a qualification for jurors...”

-- Article I, Section VI, Tennessee Constitution

 

              The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution also guarantees any citizen accused of a crime a speedy and public jury trial.  A jury in Tennessee consists of 12 citizens selected from public records, such as voter registration, to hear evidence and make a decision based on facts in a case.  State law regulates the right to a jury trial in civil - or noncriminal - cases, but in a criminal case where the accused could be imprisoned, there is an absolute right in Tennessee to a trial by jury.  Juries are chosen from a “jury pool,” selected at random to come to court for possible jury service. Lawyers for both sides in a case and the judge may ask potential jurors questions during a process called “voir dire,” a French term meaning “to speak the truth.”  The process is intended to ensure that jurors who are chosen will be impartial and fair. Prospective jurors may be excused “for cause,” such as conflict of interest or bias. Parties also may exercise a limited number of “peremptory challenges,” and dismiss a potential juror without stating a reason.  While there is a right to a trial by jury, there is no requirement that a defendant have a jury trial.  In some cases, the accused asks for a “bench trial” in which the judge hears the case and renders a decision.  In Tennessee, judges impose sentences on defendants found guilty by juries except in death penalty cases.  Juries also impose fines over $50 in criminal cases. 

Excerpt from “Understanding Your Court System: A Guide to the Judicial Branch,” published by the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Please visit the Circuit Court Clerk's website for more information about jury duty:

Jury FAQs - http://www.rutherfordcountytn.gov/courts/faqs_jury.htm

Grand Jury vs. Petit Jury - http://www.rutherfordcountytn.gov/courts/grand_vs_petit.htm

Public Acts, 2008 - http://www.rutherfordcountytn.gov/courts/tennessee_code.htm

Links