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Can a Confidential Informant Serve On a Jury in a Criminal Trial?

This is always somewhat of a dicey situation. When a person shows up for jury service, the judge and the lawyers in the court will ask the prospective juror about his occupation, his or her hobbies, his past experience with the justice system and his general views on the subject matters at hand.jury trial This is typically done in a public courtroom with other jurors watching and listening. It is difficult for the informant to answer honestly when he or she has been sworn to secrecy by the detectives who manage him. If someone is an informant and they receive a summons for jury duty, they should notify the detectives they are working with right away to ask for guidance. The detectives will likely work with the prosecutor on the case to make sure the matter is handled discretely. If such a prearrangement is not done, the informant can ask the judge at the trial if he can be questioned privately and not in the public courtroom. As a last resort, the informant should simply tell the judge “I would prefer not to answer” or “I would like to keep that private” if asked questions that touch upon his informant work. The judge might find such a response to be odd, but is likely to release the individual from jury duty. Declining to answer a question is certainly preferable to lying to the court or to the lawyers in the trial. There isn’t any law or rule that outright prohibits an informant from serving on a jury. It certainly wouldn’t be inappropriate if the jury trial was a domestic violence case or perhaps a civil suit. However, it would appear to be serious error for a drug informant to serve on a drug case particularly if the informant did not disclose his informant status.

Learn more about confidential informants.