(A) Jury Eligibility and Procedure for Jury Selection.
Juror eligibility shall be determined and prospective jurors shall be selected by the jury commission of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas in accordance with its policies and procedures for potential service with the Stow Municipal Court.
(B) Summoning of Prospective Jurors.
Prospective jurors shall be summoned only on the filing of a written jury demand and pursuant to SMCR No. 19. Every effort shall be made to resolve cases prior to summoning juries. A jury panel shall not be summoned unless it appears that there is a substantial likelihood of trial.
(C) Examination of Prospective Jurors.
Examination of prospective jurors shall be limited to matters relevant to the matter before the Court and to determine the juror’s fairness and impartiality.
All prospective jurors shall be placed under oath in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code. The Court may conduct a preliminary voir dire examination concerning basic and relevant matters and counsel shall be permitted a reasonable period of time to question panel members thereafter. Counsel or parties shall conform their voir dire questioning to the following rules:
(1) The case may not be argued in any way while questioning the jurors.
(2) Counsel may not engage in efforts to indoctrinate jurors.
(3) Jurors may not be questioned concerning anticipated instructions or theories of law. This does not prevent general questions concerning the validity and philosophy of reasonable doubt or the presumption of innocence.
(4) Jurors may not be asked what kind of verdict they might return under any circumstance.
(5) Questions are to be asked collectively of the entire panel whenever possible.
In the event there exists a potential for sensitive or potentially invasive questions, the Court or the parties may request a hearing preceding voir dire to consider these questions.
In all cases, voir dire may be held on the record and may be conducted outside the presence of other jurors in order to protect juror privacy or to avoid juror embarrassment.
If it is determined by the Court during the voir dire process that an individual is unable or unwilling to sit in a particular case fairly and impartially, the individual may be removed from the panel for cause. Such motion for removal for cause may be made by counsel, a party if unrepresented, or upon the motion of the Court. Further, Ohio Revised Code, Section 2313.42 and the Ohio Criminal Rule of Procedure 24(B) set forth additional cause challenges which may be made against potential jurors.
Peremptory challenges shall be exercised alternately as presently established by Revised Code Section 2945.23, Civil Rule 47 and Criminal Rule 24, unless prior to trial the parties agree on the record to another method. Unless otherwise agreed, all challenges shall be made outside the hearing of the prospective jurors. The number shall be limited to the number established by the Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure.
In criminal cases, the jury shall consist of eight regular jurors and possibly one alternate juror. In civil cases, the jury shall consist of eight regular jurors and possibly one alternate juror, unless by agreement, the parties stipulate to a lesser number. In special circumstances, additional alternate jurors may be selected.
(D) Jury Orientation.
Upon appearance for jury service, all prospective jurors shall be placed under the supervision of assigned personnel and shall direct any questions or communications to such court personnel for appropriate action. An explanatory video of jury service will may be presented to all prospective jurors prior to their entering the courtroom. Counsel for the parties may request to view any such video before its use.
The Court may give preliminary instructions to all prospective jurors, as well as additional instructions following the impaneling of the jury to explain the jury’s role, trial procedures of the court, along with other basic and relevant legal principles as the Court deems necessary and appropriate.
Upon the completion of the case and prior to jury deliberations, the Court shall instruct the jury on the law and the appropriate procedures to be followed during the course of deliberations. In accordance with the Civil and Criminal Rules of Procedure, the Parties or their counsel may request that special instructions be given to the jury.
A final jury charge may in the discretion of the judge be committed to writing, and may be provided to the jury for its use during deliberation.
All communications between the judge and the members of the jury panel, from the time of reporting to the court through dismissal, shall be committed to writing or placed on the record in open court. Counsel for each party shall be informed of any communication and shall be given the opportunity to be heard as to such communication. Under no circumstances shall counsel, a party, or other witnesses, have any contact with jurors.
All jury deliberations shall be conducted in the jury deliberation room. Jury deliberation rooms shall include space, furnishings and facilities conducive to reaching a fair verdict. Court personnel shall endeavor to secure the safety of all prospective jurors and shall arrange and conduct all activities so as to minimize contact between jurors, parties, counsel and the public. Upon the commencement of deliberations, all jurors shall remain in the care of court personnel and shall not be permitted to leave the court without permission.
Deliberations shall not continue after a reasonable hour, unless the trial judge determines that evening or weekend deliberations would not impose an undue hardship upon the jurors and are required in the interest of justice. Jurors may be consulted prior to any decision.
If jury deliberations are halted, jurors shall be permitted to be separated, unless for good cause shown, the Court finds that sequestration is necessary. If a jury is sequestered, the Court shall undertake the responsibility to oversee the conditions of sequestration and transportation of all jurors.
Upon reaching a verdict, all jurors shall return to the courtroom where the verdict or verdicts shall be read in open court. Upon the reading of the verdict, in criminal cases, either party may request that the jury be polled.
(E) Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases- in criminal proceedings, proposed jury instructions must be submitted at least 24 hours before the trial commencement or later with leave of court.