Anatomy Of A Jury Trial

Jury Selection

Santa Cruz County residents are randomly selected for jury service, and are summoned to the Court as potential jurors. Twelve people are then selected from that group and the Judge, prosecutor and defense attorney may question the prospective jurors. Attorneys are permitted a limited number of “peremptory” challenges to various jurors (or an unlimited number of challenges for good cause).  Twelve acceptable jurors are then impaneled, along with alternate jurors as necessary, and the Judge administers an oath to the jury and reads basic instructions about the trial process, etc.


Motions In Limine may be presented by the attorneys to the Judge for consideration.  This process takes place outside the presence of the jury.  After the Judge has made a decision regarding the motion(s), the jury will be brought into the courtroom to listen to opening statements. 

The Jury Trial Process

  • Prosecutor gives an opening statement to outline the case and evidence to the jury;
  • Defense may give a similar opening statement, or wait until later in the trial;
  • Prosecutor calls witnesses, which the defense may cross examine;
  • Prosecutor rests;
  • Defense may call witnesses and the prosecutor may cross-examine them;
  • Defense rests;
  • Prosecutor may present “rebuttal” witnesses/evidence to challenge evidence presented by the defendant;
  • Prosecutor rests;
  • Prosecutor presents a closing argument to the jury;
  • Defense presents a closing argument to the jury;
  • Prosecutor may present a rebuttal argument to the jury to respond to the defense  closing argument;
  • The judge gives the jury detailed legal instructions about the charged crimes, the deliberation process, etc.;
  • Jury deliberates and returns a verdict;
  • Jurors are released from service.