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Does a Jury in Massachusetts have to be before Six individuals?

A Jury in a Massachusetts OUI charge normally is before a jury of Six.  Recently I had a trial in Quincy District Court where we proceeded with a jury of five people.  As is typical in the District Court, the court did not have enough jurors.  Rather than picking another date, I told the judge my client would be willing to waive his right to a six person jury and have the case heard by Five instead.  With the consent of the district attorney and the defendant, the court can allow a trial to proceed with five jurors.  If this situation arises, because it is unusual, you may have to inform the judge that the law allows for a five person jury under these circumstances.  As a defense attorney, the calculation is whether you like the five potentially sitting in the box versus coming back on another date.  I felt as though the five individuals selected could be fair and it did not make a difference to me that there was one less juror.  In fact, had the last juror not been excluded for cause by the judge; I would have asked the judge before striking the juror if he would allow me to strike that juror and go with five instead.

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 12 of the Declaration of Rights normally require a six person jury, but the law allow the number to be reduced to five upon agreement of all parties.  The law does not permit a defendant to have a jury less than five even with the agreement of the parties.  Some judges will not allow a trial to proceed with five.

If you have questions about the court process when charged with OUI, feel free to contact Attorney DelSignore.  We have encountered almost every issue that comes up in court and with the RMV.  Feel free to reach out on Facebook if you have questions as well where we posted updates to the law.

 

 

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