A jury foreman is a person who is elected by the jury or judge of a case and who acts as the jury’s representative and manager. The jury foreman is responsible for communicating the jury’s needs or concerns to the judge. Other duties include managing jurors, coordinating deliberations and delivering verdicts.
Creating the routine that the jury will follow during deliberations is one of the most important duties of a jury foreman. He or she decides how the evidence is reviewed and assures that all evidence and arguments made during the trial are considered. Another important job that pertains to deliberation is taking attendance. The foreman must establish that all jury members are present before beginning deliberations.
Managing deliberations and individual jurors also is an essential part of a foreman’s responsibilities. During deliberations, if arguments are out of control, the foreman must rein in the discussion and ensure that deliberations continue in a cordial way. The foreman also must make sure that each juror is providing his or her views of the case in the deliberation.
If the jury needs to communicate with the judge to ask questions that pertain to the law, it is the jury foreman who relays the question. The foreman also serves as the spokesperson after the verdict is reached. He or she is responsible for giving the judge the verdict and for delivering it in the courtroom. In some courts, the foreman reads the verdict from a verdict form, but there are courts where the judge reads each charge and the foreman responds with the verdict.
If there is a dispute about any evidence or testimony heard in the case, it is the jury foreman’s duty to ask the judge if the jury can hear the testimony again. Deliberations are temporarily halted, and the court is reconvened to hear the testimony. After the testimony is heard, the dispute over what exactly was said is solved, and deliberations are started again. Requesting to rehear testimony is a last resort because of the difficulties associated with reconvening the courtroom.
Polling the jury is another important job of the jury foreman. In criminal cases, when deliberations are nearing an end, the jury foreman must take a poll to determine if a unanimous decision has been reached. If the poll shows that the decision is not unanimous, the foreman must have each juror who is not in agreement share and explain his or her decision. In civil proceedings, a majority vote is all that is required, rather than a unanimous decision.