A jury box is a special area of a court room where a jury sits. The jury box is usually to the side of the judge's bench and the witness stand. It is in the front of the court room so the jurors can hear and see the testimony and arguments made by the lawyers.
In the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, accused criminals are granted the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. This means that in criminal trials, a jury must be present unless the accused waives his rights to a jury. The jury sits in the jury box.
The Fourteenth Amendment extended the right to a trial by jury to trials held in state court. The seventh amendment stipulated that those who are sued in civil court are also entitled to a trial by jury, as long as they are being sued for $20 or more. Under these rules, a defendant who is prosecuted in state or federal court, or who is sued in a private lawsuit, is almost always entitled to a jury if he wants one.
The jury is comprised of a random selection of the population. U.S. citizens and qualified residents are sent jury duty notices in the mail periodically. Those who receive jury duty notices are required to come to court to potentially serve on a jury.
A jury is selected through the process of voir dire, which literally means "tell the truth" in French. During this process, attorneys from both the defense and prosecution ask questions of prospective jurors. Attorneys can then excuse jurors either for cause or with peremptory challenges.
Once a jury is selected, that jury sits in the jury box. Juries can be comprised of either six or twelve people, depending upon the nature of the trial and the court. A head juror, or foreman, is usually selected from among the jury.
The jury sits in the jury box for the duration of the trial. From this box, the jury listens to all the evidence presented by both the defendant and the plaintiff or prosecutor. The judge then gives final instructions to the jury.
After receiving the instructions, the jury leaves the jury box to deliberate. They deliberate in secret and come to a decision together. In some cases, such as criminal cases, the jury must decide unanimously. In other cases, a majority vote is sufficient to find a defendant guilty or innocent.