Court trials allow two or more parties to have their dispute settled by a court. Some lawsuits are decided by the judge alone; others are decided by jury. A jury is a body of ordinary citizens sworn to make an impartial decision based on the evidence or information presented during a trial.
Jurors serve in two kinds of cases - civil and criminal. In a civil case one person or company - the plaintiff - asks the court to protect some right or to help recover money or property from another person or company - the defendant. In a criminal case the State of California - the plaintiff - charges that a person - the defendant - committed a crime and asks that the defendant be fined or sent to jail or prison.