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Posted: January 1st, 2020

Jury Selection

Jury Selection: How Is It Performed?

Jury selection is the process of choosing a group of citizens to serve as jurors in a trial. Jury selection is an important part of the justice system, as it ensures that the jury is fair, impartial, and representative of the community. Jury selection can vary depending on the type of case, the jurisdiction, and the rules of the court. However, there are some common steps and principles that apply to most jury selection procedures.

The first step is to summon potential jurors from a pool of eligible citizens. The pool can be drawn from various sources, such as voter registration lists, driver’s license records, or census data. The potential jurors are randomly selected and notified by mail or phone to appear for jury duty on a certain date and time.

The second step is to screen the potential jurors for eligibility and availability. Eligibility criteria can include age, citizenship, residency, literacy, and criminal history. Availability criteria can include health, hardship, occupation, or prior jury service. The potential jurors are asked to fill out a questionnaire or answer questions from a judge or a clerk to determine if they meet the eligibility and availability requirements. Those who do not qualify or have valid excuses are dismissed from jury duty.

The third step is to question the potential jurors for bias and suitability. This is done by the judge and the lawyers of both parties in a process called voir dire. Voir dire means “to speak the truth” in French, and it is intended to reveal any information that might affect the potential jurors’ ability to be fair and impartial. The judge and the lawyers can ask questions about the potential jurors’ background, opinions, experiences, knowledge, or feelings related to the case or the parties involved. The potential jurors are expected to answer honestly and openly.

The fourth step is to challenge or strike the potential jurors for cause or peremptory. A challenge for cause is a request to remove a potential juror for a specific reason that shows they are unfit or biased. For example, a potential juror might be challenged for cause if they are related to one of the parties, have a personal interest in the outcome of the case, or have expressed a strong opinion about the case. A peremptory challenge is a request to remove a potential juror without giving a reason. However, peremptory challenges cannot be based on race, gender, or other protected characteristics. Each party has a limited number of peremptory challenges that they can use at their discretion.

The final step is to empanel the jury and swear them in. The jury consists of a certain number of jurors (usually 12) and some alternates (usually 2 or 3) who can replace any juror who becomes unable or unavailable during the trial. The jury is sworn in by taking an oath to perform their duty faithfully and impartially.

Jury selection is a complex and crucial process that aims to ensure a fair trial for all parties involved. Jury selection can influence the outcome of the case, as well as the public’s perception and confidence in the justice system.

References:

– Abramson, J. (2000). We, the jury: The jury system and the ideal of democracy. Harvard University Press.
– Hans, V.P., & Vidmar, N. (2005). American juries: The verdict. Prometheus Books.
– Marder, N.S. (2018). The jury process: Turning citizens into jurors. Cambridge University Press.
– Simon-Kerr, J., & Darley, J.M. (2019). How do we know what we think we know? A brief history of jury research methods. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 15, 69-88.

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