Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Selecting a jury

Disclaimer: This case has been completed and the jury released from the judge's admonition not to discuss the case.  

My previous post described part of the process called "voir dire" where the attorneys for each side as well as the judge get a chance to individually question each juror for the purpose of determining their fitness to sit on the jury for this trial.

As we had registered for our jury duty we had filled in a short questionnaire which asked for example about employment, education, and prior jury experience.  This questionnaire helped the attorneys and the judge focus their questions.  Knowing a peace officer or belonging to the ACLU doesn't disqualify you but it does flag you for additional questions about whether you might be prejudiced for or against the defendant.  The judge started out asking specific jurors specific questions but quickly moving to more general questions of the whole jury.  For example, "Does anyone know an attorney or have been involved with legal issues?"The prosecutor likewise asked questions more generally. The defense attorney was specific all the way which had the effect of not asking some jurors anything.  The most frequent question centered around the "innocent until proven guilty" concept.  The first person the judge dismissed and a couple dismissed by the defense had trouble with that concept.

The prosecutor and defense lawyers traded turns inviting people off the jury until all six alternates had replaced six original jurors.  Then six more alternates were selected, sworn in, and subjected to voir dire.  Two additional jury panels had to be called before the attorneys stopped challenging the jurors.  I was still in my original chair as Juror #12.

No comments:

Post a Comment