The right to a jury trial and a speedy trial are guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In Tennessee, an individual has the right to a trial by jury if he or she is charged with a crime. Generally, a jury is made up of 12 citizens. The selection pool for the 12 members of the jury is usually a public record repository, such as the voter registration database.
The members of the jury pool are selected randomly and then instructed to show up at the court for possible jury duty. Just because they are part of the jury pool does not mean that they will necessarily be selected to be part of a jury. Typically, before a juror is selected to join the panel of twelve jurors in a trial, he or she will have to answer some questions asked by lawyers from both sides and quite possibly the judge, as well. This interview process is used to ensure that anyone who is selected to be part of the jury will likely be fair and impartial when reviewing the facts of the case. This process of jury selection is called voir dire.
The purpose of the jury is to hear the facts of the case from both the prosecution and the defense attorney. Solely based on the facts of the case before them, the jury renders a decision of guilty or not guilty. The standard that must be met in order to render a guilty verdict by the jury is that of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is also important to note that while an individual in a criminal case has a right to a trial by jury, he or she can waive that right. If the right is waived, there will be no jury sitting on the case. A judge will hear both sides and then render a verdict.
Source: Tennessee Supreme Court, “Understanding Your Court System: A Guide to the Judicial Branch,” accessed March 23, 2015