Have you wondered why you were summoned for jury duty? Here is an eye-opener into the process of picking potential people for jury panels.
In the process of selecting a jury, 6 to 12 individuals for a jury trial are chosen from a larger group known as the jury pool. Names are selected from the voter registration, DMV, tax office, etc.. The exact number of jurors for the panel can vary based on the state and the nature of the case.
- Civil Cases – In courts with smaller jurisdiction, many are are adopting a standard jury size of six individuals, which can be increased through agreement of both parties.
- Criminal Cases – Regarding misdemeanor cases, there could be fewer than twelve jurors. Serious criminal cases generally require a panel of twelve jurors.
The traditional requirement for unanimous jury decisions is also evolving. For misdemeanor and civil cases, some states and counties allow verdicts based on agreement from a majority.
In certain situations, alternate jurors are selected to take the place of jurors who might become unable to continue during the trial. These alternate jurors observe the evidence like the other jurors but only participate in deliberations if they replace an original juror.
In numerous jurisdictions, the process of jury selection begins with the court clerk summoning twelve individuals from the jury pool list to occupy seats in the jury box. The judge typically delivers a brief explanation of the case to be tried and asks potential jurors if there are any reasons they cannot fulfill this duty. The judge or attorneys then pose questions to them to determine whether they possess any knowledge of the case or any personal experiences that could lead to bias.
The questioning and scrutiny of potential jurors is referred to as Voir Dire, which translates to ``to speak the truth.`` To serve on a jury trial, this is an essential step in the process.
If either attorney believes that a juror might be biased regarding the case, they can request the judge to dismiss that juror for cause. For example, a juror can be excused if they are closely related to one of the parties involved or to one of the lawyers. Each attorney has the right to request an unlimited number of dismissals for cause. The judge reviews each request and decides whether to grant it or not.
Beyond challenges for cause, each attorney also has a set number of peremptory challenges. These challenges enable an attorney to remove a potential juror without stating a reason. Essentially, they allow attorneys to exclude a juror based on their belief that the juror won’t serve the best interests of their client.
When both parties have mutually agreed about the selected jurors, they are sworn in by the court clerk to carry out their duties in the case. Those not chosen are excused from further involvement. Once selected for a panel, the jurors’ responsibility is to attentively consider the presented evidence without forming premature conclusions. They are instructed by the judge not to discuss the case with outsiders or fellow jurors (until deliberations begin). Sometimes with high profile cases, jurors can be sequestered, meaning to keep them in an isolated location so no outside influence of the case can taint them.
Typically, jurors do not possess the right to directly question witnesses, although some judges permit them to submit written questions for the judge and attorneys to review. (Attorneys retain the right to object to these questions, just as they do with questions posed by attorneys during the trial.) If deemed appropriate, the submitted questions may be posed to the witnesses.
See the original article here.