Tennessee law requires juries of twelve citizens in injury trials and in all other types of civil and criminal jury trials. Rarely, the lawyers in the case will agree that the case can be decided by less than twelve people, but a very, very high percentage of jury trials in Tennessee are decided by twelve jurors. A judge cannot require that a case is decided by less than twelve jurors.
Depending on the anticipated length and complexity of the trial, a judge may also have one or more alternate jurors hear the case. An alternate juror will replace one of the twelve jurors who have been designated to hear the case if one of those jurors becomes ill or for some other reason cannot continue serving as a juror in the case. If none of the group of twelve jurors is required to leave jury service for any reason the alternate jurors are dismissed from the case immediately before the jury begins to deliberate a verdict in the case. No more than twelve jurors are permitted to decide the case.
In Tennessee a jury’s verdict must be unanimous. In other words, all twelve jurors must agree on the result. If the jurors are unable to reach an unanimous agreement, a mistrial is declared and the case must be tried to another jury at a later date.
Different rules apply in federal courts in Tennessee and other states.
If you are called for jury duty be sure to participate in the process. To be sure, jury service can be an inconvenience, but most people who participate in the jury trial process are very glad they did.