JURY SERVICE – General Information
Jurors are critical to the administration of Justice in Trinidad & Tobago. Jurors are randomly chosen to give a verdict in criminal cases after considering evidence. The guilt of an accused person must be proved to the highest standard beyond reasonable doubt.
Jury service is one's most important civic duty. It's an obligation which is both memorable and valuable. Juries are needed for criminal trials without them, criminal trials at assizes cannot proceed.
You can download our Juror's Handbook at the top right-hand on corner of page.
Q. Who's eligible?
A . Every citizen aged 18 - 65 years and whose name is on the Register of electors can be called for jury service:
Q. How do I know I have been called?
A. A jury summons is issued to you indicating you have been called for jury service.
Q. How long must I serve?
A. Jurors are usually required to serve for roughly one month or until the end of the trial.
Q. Do I have to serve?
A . Apart from exercising your civic responsibility if you fail to show at the date and time stated on your jury summons you can be fined; if the fine is not paid you can be ordered to serve a term of imprisonment.
Q. Are there any reasons which would prevent me from being selected as a juror?
A . The law exempts certain persons and deems others ineligible to serve as jurors.
Q. Who is exempt?
A. The following persons are not required to serve:
- Persons aged 65 and over.
- Spouses of judges, Members of Parliament, Mayors and Deputy Mayors, Magistrates and their clerks, Justices of the Peace, Attorneys at Law and their clerks, officers of the courts of justice and members of the police service.
- Members of the Senate, Officers and servants of the Post Officer and Customs & Excise Department.
- Ministers of Religion, Pilots who are licensed under Section 5 of the Pilotage Act, members of the air crew of any licensed airline service.
- Those who provide important community service including practicing doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians.
- Individuals with certification that their functions cannot be performed by another person or postponed; members of staff of Parliament, Heads of Government Departments, other civil servants, Chief Executive Officers and employees of local authorities, school teachers and university lecturers.
- Those who have served on a jury within the last three years or who have been excused by a judge at the conclusion of a previous unexpired period.
- Additionally there are persons categorised as ineligible who cannot serve as jurors. This group includes:
- Those involved in the administration of justice; judges, magistrates, former judges, the President, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, prison officers, police officers, fire officers, members of the defence forces, practising attorneys, solicitors, court officers and personnel in government departments involved in matters of justice or the courts.
- Those who are suffering or have suffered from mental illness or disability or who are being treated for such by a medical practitioner.
- Those who cannot read or whose level of literacy impairs their performance as a juror.
- Nationals of Trinidad & Tobago who have not resided in Trinidad & Tobago for two years or more.
You may also be disqualified from jury service if you:
- Have been convicted or sentenced to imprisonment
- Are bankrupt, or have entered into deed of arrangement with his creditors.
Q. How many jurors are required?
A. For capital (murder or treason) cases 12 for non capital cases 9 alternates are also selected at the judge's discretion.
Q. Are jurors paid for their services?
A.Yes. A subsistence allowance is provided.
Below are the steps involved in jury service
1. Potential jurors are summoned
2. They attend court
3. They are screened
4. Exempt jurors identified & objectionable jurors challenged
5. Final jurors and alternates selected, sworn in and a foreman appointed
6. The trial begins
7. Charges are read and the evidence presented by the prosecution and defence
8. The jury is addressed for a final time by both prosecution and defence
9. The judge sums up the case
10. The jury deliberates
11. Additional matters are clarified as necessary
12. A verdict is reached.
Issued by the Chief Justice in association with the Judges of the High Court