How Much Does Jury Selection Matter?
Selecting the right jury for your case is one of the most important steps in litigation. If you make even one wrong selection, it could be enough to affect the entire outcome of your case.
Many people in the USA have never been in a jury or even participated in the process of selecting a jury. Therefore, you may not be aware of how much power a single juror can hold in a case. The decisions made by jurors can impact people's lives in both civil and criminal cases. Keep the following in mind when dealing with jury selection.
The Judge Is More of a Referee
In a trial that's to be decided by a jury, the presence of the judge is important. The judge will ensure that your case is heard properly. However, the presence of the judge in such cases serves more or less as a referee. They direct the proceedings and ensure that everything the lawyers do is in accordance with legal requirements and procedures.
It's the jury who have the real power in such a case. Regardless of how the judge may feel about it, the jury can reach a decision that goes against the facts of the case. This is why it's important to consider who is on the jury.
Eliminating Bias Jurors
During the jury selection process, attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants try to weed out jurors who might have a bias against them in the case. This usually happens during a process known as voir dire. The judge and attorneys will ask questions to determine the suitability of jurors.
An attorney can make a "challenge for cause" if a juror fails the process. Although there are other factors involved, such as the mental state of the juror, attorneys will be most concerned with jurors who might harbor a bias against their client.
Some biases might be obvious, for example, if a juror is a member of a particular organization with specific interests. However, other biases might be less obvious. For example, in a personal injury case, a juror may be biased if a family member has suffered as a result of a similar suit in the past.
Using Peremptory Challenges
Jurors can also be excused by way of peremptory challenges. Attorneys have a limited number of such challenges for which they don't have to issue an explanation. Attorneys use these challenges to eliminate jurors who seem likely to favor the other side even if they seem qualified.
For more information about jury selection, work with a local attorney.