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Everyone who testifies in a criminal trial must do so under
oath, in which some reference to God is made, or after affirmation, 59 which is
a pledge to tell the truth used by those who find either a reference or
swearing to God objectionable. All witnesses are subject to cross-examination.
Lay witnesses may be surprised to find that cross-examination can force them to
defend their personal and moral integrity. A cross-examiner may question a
witness about past vicious, criminal, or immoral acts, even when such matters
have never been the subject of a criminal proceeding.60 As long as the intent
of such questions is to demonstrate to the jury that the witness is not
credible, the judge will normally permit them. Witnesses have traditionally
been short-changed by the judicial process. Subpoenaed to attend court, they
have often suffered from frequent and unannounced changes in trial dates.
A witness who promptly responds to a summons to appear may find that legal
maneuvering has resulted in unanticipated delays. Strategic changes by either
side may make the testimony of some witnesses entirely unnecessary, and people
who have prepared themselves for the psychological rigors of testifying often
experience an emotional letdown. To compensate witnesses for their time and to
make up for lost income, many states pay witnesses for each day that they spend
in court. Payments range from $5 to $40 per day,61 although some states pay
nothing at all (federal courts pay $40 per day62). In a 2004 Chicago murder case
in which Oprah Winfrey served as a juror, for example, all jurors, including
Winfrey (a billionaire), were paid $17.20 a day for their services.63 The 1991
U.S. Supreme Court case of Demarest v. Manspeaker et al.64 held that federal
prisoners subpoenaed to testify are entitled to witness fees just as other
witnesses would be. In an effort to make the job of witnesses less onerous, 39
states and the federal government have laws or guidelines requiring that
witnesses be notified of scheduling changes and cancellations in criminal
proceedings.65 In 1982, Congress passed the Victim and Witness Protection Act,
which required the U.S. attorney general to develop guidelines to assist
victims and witnesses in meeting the demands placed on them by the justice
system. A number of victims’ assistance programs (also called victim/witness
assistance programs) have also taken up a call for the rights of witnesses and
are working to make the courtroom experience more manageable. Jurors The Cook
County (Chicago) jury on which television diva Oprah Winfrey served convicted a
man of first-degree murder in 2004. “It was an eye-opener for all of us,”
Winfrey said after the three-day trial ended. “It was not an easy decision to
make.”66 Article III of the U.S. Constitution requires that “[t]he trial of all
crimes . . . shall be by jury.” Jurors are citizens selected for jury duty in a
court of law. States have the authority to determine the number of jurors in
criminal trial juries. Most states use juries composed of 12 people and one or
two alternates designated to fill in for jurors who are unable to continue due
to accident, illness, or personal emergency. Some states allow for juries
smaller than 12 jurors, and juries with as few as six members have survived
Supreme Court scrutiny.67

Jury duty is regarded as a responsibility of citizenship.
Other than juveniles and people

in certain occupations, such as police personnel,
physicians, members of the armed ser-

vices on active duty, and emergency services workers, those
who are called for jury duty

must serve unless they can convince a judge that they should be excused
for overriding

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