If you've been selected to a jury and are excited to play a pivotal role in an upcoming trial, one idea that may have crossed your mind is serving as the jury foreperson. Depending on the legal jurisdiction in which you find yourself, it's possible that your fellow jury members will vote to select a foreperson, but it's also possible for the judge to make this selection. Although a lot of jury members shy away from this responsibility, it might be something that interests you. If you want a shot at playing this role, here are some qualities that you should possess.
Comfort With Public Speaking
Arguably, the biggest responsibility that a jury foreperson has is to state the verdict that the jury has come to. If you're thinking about this role, it's imperative that you have a high degree of comfort with public speaking. A courtroom is a tense environment, especially when the jury is about to deliver the verdict. You'll potentially have dozens of people looking at you, including attorneys, the defendant, the victim, and their families. You want to be able to deliver the verdict in a strong, clear, and confident manner, despite the pressure of the situation.
An Authoritative Presence
As the jury foreperson, you assume a leadership role — especially when it's time for the jury to deliberate on the case. Deliberations can be heated exchanges, especially if different jury members have contrasting views on the defendant's guilt or innocence. You need to be comfortable with taking the lead, ensuring that every jury member has a chance to state his or her thoughts. A strong foreperson is needed to keep the discussions on track and productive.
It's also important for you to be a skilled listener if you wish to serve a jury as the foreperson. Listening is critical to every part of your job. Not only do you need to listen attentively during the proceedings in the courtroom, but you also need to listen to each jury member speak during the deliberation process. Few things can break down a productive deliberation session as quickly as members getting frustrated because they feel as though others aren't hearing them, and this is even more critical for the foreperson. If people in your life have often lauded your ability to listen, consider this an important attribute to have if you wish to serve as the jury foreperson.
You may wish to speak with a local attorney for more information about the jury selection process.