The Jury Trial

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Who serves on the jury? 

The jury is selected from the drivers’ license rolls in the county in which the condemned property is located. The judge will summon a jury panel of prospective jurors. From those prospective jurors, the parties and their attorneys will select 12 people to decide the case, and perhaps one or two alternates to listen to the evidence and serve in the event that one or more of the jurors selected is excused during the trial. 

The court will excuse potential jurors for cause or in response to a peremptory challenge. A juror will be excused for cause if he is related to a party or is viewed by the court as being unable to serve as a fair and impartial juror. 

Typically, each party to the case is allowed three peremptory challenges, which means each side may reject three prospective jurors from the case, without being required to state any reason for their rejection. 

Are there rules I need to be familiar with during the trial?

Yes. You should be at the trial from jury selection through final verdict. Although attendance is not generally required, it is strongly recommended.

Dress professionally. Conservative suits and ties for men; professional office wear for women. 

When the judge or jury enters the courtroom, please rise. When the judge or bailiff says: "Be seated" after the judge enters; you may retake your seat. When the jurors have all taken their seats, you too may be seated.

Do not speak to the jurors. 

Unless your attorney gives you prior approval, do not discuss any testimony you have heard with any potential witness.

Speak quietly, so your conversation is not overheard by jurors. 

Jurors are allowed to take notes during the trial and generally are allowed to ask questions.

How long will my trial last?

Each case is different. A rule of thumb, for the "typical" condemnation case is 3-4 days for each piece of property involved in the trial. 

Will my case be combined with another person's case? 

Perhaps. Ordinarily, all claims relating to one piece of property will be tried with the same jury. Thus, for example, if a property is leased to two business tenants, the value of the property and the two tenants’ business damage claims will be decided by the same jury.

In some cases, more than one property will be presented to the same jury. The law allows the condemning authority to include, in one lawsuit, numerous separate properties so long as all of those properties are needed for the same project. If more than one property is included in the same lawsuit and the judge does not separate them for trial, then those properties will be tried to the same jury. 

Even if two properties are included in separate lawsuits, the judge may combine the trials of these separate properties through an order for a consolidated trial.

Do I need to testify at my trial?

It depends. You and your attorney will discuss the necessity of your testimony as a witness. The law allows an owner to testify as to his or her opinion of value of the property. In addition, there may be other facts or opinions about which the owner may testify at the trial.

Will the jury see my property during the trial?

Probably.  The law requires the jury to view the property.  In the typical case, the jury takes a bus ride to the property during the trial and views the property together.

In a “quick taking” case, the building may be demolished by the time of the jury trial and view, and the public project may even have been constructed by this time.  Any view of your property would be in the form of photographs or video, etc.

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