In the wake of the trial that started this week in the death of George Floyd, it seems like an opportune time to discuss the role of a jury in MN family law cases.

There are two types of trials: trial by judge or trial by jury. Minnesota divorce cases are tried to the court. Still, there are room for juries in family court.

Paternity cases in Minnesota may be tried to a jury. A jury trial or a “trial by peers” means six to twelve local men and women will serve on a jury and hear a case. At the end of the trial, they consult or “deliberate” with each other to come to a verdict. Jury trials can take place in both civil and criminal cases.

Individuals are randomly selected for jury duty from the state’s driver’s licenses and voter registration records. A potential juror will be summoned through the mail with specific instructions.

Qualifications

Jury duty does have specific qualifications. Minnesota’s qualifications for jury selection are:

  • U.S. Citizenship;
  • Resident in the case’s county;
  • 18 years of age;
  • Fluent in English;
  • Physically capable of serving;
  • Mentally capable of serving;
  • Civil rights or restored civil rights if a felon; and
  • No previous jury duty in the last 4 years.

If a person does not fulfill all of the qualifications, they can be excused from their duty. It is important to note not fulfilling the conditions does NOT mean you are exempt from serving. You will simply need to be excused by the court. Even if a person has all the qualifications, they still may be eliminated for the jury in a legal process called “voir dire”.

Selection

In voir dire, the attorneys for both sides will ask different questions. The questions may be asked individually or as groups. During the interview questions, if one of the attorneys feels you cannot be impartial or unbiased, you can be excused from serving. This is called a peremptory challenge. If you know a party, attorney, or witness to the case, you should let the judge know of the conflict.

Serving

Once you have been selected to serve on a jury, you will begin jury orientation. This consists of detailed explanations of your duties and taking an oath. As a juror, you will sit in the courtroom’s jury box and listen to all of the supporting evidence of both sides. At the end of the trial, jurors will be guided to a separate room to “deliberate.” During this time, jurors will discuss the case and come to a verdict to be read before the court.

Do you have more questions? Our office is ready to help you with your legal needs. Contact our office today at (763) 323-6555 or submit an online contact inquiry request through our website.

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Photo of Jason C. Brown Jason C. Brown

Jason Brown founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003 after working for several years as an associate attorney in downtown Minneapolis. He graduated with honors from Mankato State University in 1997 and the William Mitchell College of Law in 2000.

Jason has…

Jason Brown founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003 after working for several years as an associate attorney in downtown Minneapolis. He graduated with honors from Mankato State University in 1997 and the William Mitchell College of Law in 2000.

Jason has successfully litigated against some of the more recognized divorce attorneys in the Twin Cities. He has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Thomson Reuters, and one of the Top 100 Family Law Attorneys in Minnesota by the Society of Legal Advocates.

In addition to his work as a lawyer, Jason serves as a mediator, and court-appointed early neutral evaluator, in divorce and family law cases throughout Minnesota. He frequently writes and speaks concerning divorce and family law issues, including several invitations to present seminars for the Minnesota Judicial Branch in St. Paul.

Jason is the former chairperson of the Family Law Section of the Minnesota Trial Lawyer’s Association, and taught divorce and family law coursework within the paralegal program at North Hennepin Community College. He publishes the Minnesota Family Law Blog, which has been recognized as a “Top 25″ by the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Outside of the office, Jason enjoys playing the bass and electric guitar and spending time in the north woods of Wisconsin.


Areas of Practice
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Adoption
  • Restraining Orders
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Criminal Defense
  • Estate Planning
Notable Cases
  • Representation of Four Grandparents in Minnesota’s First Quad-Parenting Adoption
  • Representation of Client in Minnesota’s First Same-Sex Divorce
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota State Bar, 2000
  • US District Court – District of Minnesota, 2002
Education
  • William Mitchell College of Law, 2000
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato, 1997
Joined Firm
  • 2003
Professional Associations & Activities
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Presenter, Various CLE Courses
  • Monthly Columnist, Minnesota Lawyer Newspaper