What Is Sequestration? - Definition, Law & Effects

Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Learn what constitutes jury sequestration. Review the definition of jury sequestration and examine the relevant law surrounding the concept. Discover the effects that jury sequestration has on the outcome of a jury trial.


During the famous O.J. Simpson trial in the 1990s, O.J. Simpson was on trial for the murder of two individuals. After the plaintiff and defense presented their respective sides, the jury was sequestered for over eight months to decide the outcome of the case.

Sequestration is also known as 'jury sequestration.' Although uncommon, jury sequestration occurs when a jury is isolated from other individuals and the media in order to insulate the jury's decision in a case from being influenced by outside sources. Ultimately, this means that the jury stays together all the time until the case is decided. The jury will work during the day to deliberate, or decide, the case. When the day is over, the jury will be transported to housing, usually a hotel, where the jury will reside until the next day, sharing meals and time together. The jury will be restricted from media, family and friends. The next day, the jury will return back to the courthouse to continue deliberating on the case.

Why Sequester?

There are various reasons why a jury may be sequestered. Initially, the case may involve a high profile issue or individual, such as a celebrity (in the example given above, O.J. Simpson was a former football player and actor). Moreover, the case may have substantial media coverage that could potentially sway jurors.

Another reason to sequester a jury is if there are privacy concerns by either party in the case. For example, the case could involve young children and therefore, there can be a need for protecting the interests of the children involved in the matter.

In addition, the judge may seek to avoid jury tampering. Juror tampering involves outside influences on jurors to decide the case in a certain way. This usually occurs through threats of violence or harassment to jurors and their families and friends unless the jurors decide the case a certain way.

Finally, the judge may seek to avoid jury misconduct. Jury misconduct can include directly disobeying the judge's jury instructions. For example, a juror may discuss the case with friends and family after the judge advised not to do so.


Every state has different laws regarding jury sequestration. Some states require jury sequestration for certain types of criminal cases, such as murder cases involving the death penalty. Other states do not allow jury sequestration. However, generally when a jury is sequestered, the jury must adhere to certain rules. These rules include the following:

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