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A jury is a sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial verdict and a finding of fact on a legal question officially submitted to them, or to set a penalty or judgment in a jury trial of a court of law. The word "jury" originates in Latin, from "juris"-law. In French, it became "juri" a law body.
The petit jury or trial jury hears the evidence in a case and decides the disputed facts and usually consists of 12 jurors, although Scotland uses 15 jurors in criminal trials.
A grand jury, a type of jury now confined almost exclusively to the U.S., conducts investigations of public problems and may approve an application to prosecute someone for a crime, called a bill of indictment, thereby appointing the applicant to serve as the prosecutor. A report on its investigative findings is called a presentment, which may include authorization to prosecute a criminal offense revealed by that investigation.
In most criminal justice systems and some civil cases which need a jury, panels are initially allotted at random from the adult population of the district served by the court concerned. A person who is serving on (is a member of) a jury is known as a juror, and the head juror is called the foreman or presiding juror. The foreman is often chosen before the trial begins. The role of the foreman is to ask questions on behalf of the jury, facilitate jury discussions, and read the verdict of the jury.
The number of jurors must be specified, usually twelve, though there are fifteen in Scottish juries and in some legal systems smaller cases may require only six. Since there is always the possibility of jurors not completing the trial for health or other reasons, often some alternate jurors are nominated, who will also follow the trial (but do not take part in deciding the verdict), as a precaution in case a new juror is needed part way through the trial (most often used when the trial will be lengthy or high-profile).
Serving on a jury is normally compulsory for those individuals who are qualified for jury service. Since a jury is intended to be an impartial panel capable of reaching a verdict, there are often procedures and requirements, for instance, fluent understanding of the language, or the ability to test jurors or otherwise exclude jurors who might be perceived as less than neutral or more partial to hear one side or the other.
The jurors hear the cases presented by both the defense and prosecution, and in some jurisdictions a summary from the judge. They then retire as a group to consider a verdict. The majority required for a verdict varies. In some countries their decision making process is private and may not be disclosed, in others it may be discussed but only after the trial has ended.