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Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact.
A body of men selected according to law for the purpose of deciding some controversy.
This mode of trial by jury was adopted soon after the conquest of England by William and was fully established for the trial of civil suits in the reign of Henry II. In the old French law they are called inquests or tourbes of ten men.
Juries are either grand juries or petit juries. The former having been treated of elsewhere, it will only be necessary to consider the latter. A petit jury consists of twelve citizens duly qualified to serve on juries, impanneled and sworn to try one or more issues of facts submitted to them and to give a judgment respecting the same, which is called a verdict. Each one of the citizens so impanneled and sworn is called a juror.
The Constitution of the United States directs that 'the trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury;' and this invaluable institution is also secured by the several state constitutions. The Constitution of the United States also provides that in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. Amend. VII.
It is scarcely practicable to give the rules established in the different states to secure impartial juries; it may, however, be stated that in all, the selection of persons who are to serve on the jury is made by disinterested officers and that out of the lists thus made out, the jurors are selected by lot.