How Can Jury Selection Potentially Affect the Outcome of a Case?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
A jury is a group of 12 people responsible for evaluating evidence presented in court to decide whether an accused party is liable or not. A jury is filled by randomly selecting a handful of individuals from the relevant county with some form of government identification such as being registered to vote or having a state identification card. While receiving a jury summons in the mail instills dread in some people knowing it may require a significant readjustment of their schedule, receiving a summons does not necessarily make someone a juror.
Potential jurors must undergo a selection process to be officially placed on the jury.
It is not uncommon for 50 to 60 prospective jurors to be gathered in a courtroom before a judge and lawyers to be asked a series of questions. Some potential jurors may receive questionnaires in the mail which can be filled out ahead of time and brought with them. These questions are designed to ensure that each person picked to serve on the jury for a particular case does not have any inherent bias which could unjustly sway their decision on the case. Selected jurors are required to swear by oath to tell the truth regarding their answers to these selection questions. This process of questioning jurors before official selection is referred to as voir dire.
An impartial jury is essential to a fair trial.
A jury selection can make or break any case. If a jury includes individuals with inherent bias toward the topics or people to be discussed in court, this could result in an unbalanced decision that might not represent the best carriage of justice for all parties involved. Having an impartial jury is paramount to the proper carriage of justice in a trial by jury. The voir dire process is designed to increase the likelihood of impartiality in the jury by allowing each lawyer to ask their own questions and attempt to pick the members of the jury they believe are more sympathetic to their client’s situation.
If your case is likely to go to court, it’s a good idea to reach out to a trial attorney.
While any attorney can go to trial, not all attorneys are trial attorneys. Trial attorneys undergo additional training in client advocacy and often have far more experience in the courtroom than other attorneys who may be more familiar with settling outside of court. With this court experience comes experience in jury selection. Especially when considering the process and purpose of jury selection, it’s not difficult to see the importance of hiring an attorney with trial experience. An attorney who has not spent sufficient time in the courtroom may not know what questions to ask potential jurors, as well as how to recognize the difference between sympathetic and unsympathetic jurors. With both lawyers present during the questioning process and able to make vetoes on jury choice, the opportunity for a wholly impartial jury remains, assuming both attorneys are well-versed in how to conduct a thorough voir dire.