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What Is The Jury Selection Process Like?

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You never know if there will come a time when you'll be in court and will need to have a jury on your side. A jury is one of the most important forces in a court of law. Whether it's for a criminal trial or a lawsuit, a jury might hold your future in their hands. When you consider this, it's important to know how a jury is selected in the first place.

Jury selection is designed to ensure that a trial gets a jury that will be able to make decisions based on the facts of the case and not due to personal biases. There are two stages to this process.

Random Selection

This is the first stage of selecting a jury. Names are pulled randomly from a list held by the federal district or state. This can be a list of people who hold a driver's license, registered voters, or even people receiving unemployment benefits. These potential jurors are then notified by mail that they are required to report to a particular court on a particular date.

Unless the potential juror has a very good reason, they will be required to show up on the first day, at the very least.

Voir Dire

This is the second stage of the selection process, and perhaps the most important one. During this stage, the potential jurors are interviewed by the attorneys and the judge to determine their suitability to serve as jurors.

This is the stage where attorneys can object to a particular juror. This will mean the removal of the person from the panel. There are two ways that your attorney can have a juror removed from the panel:

  • Challenges for cause

  • Peremptory challenges

Challenges for cause are used to eliminate jurors who may be consciously or unconsciously biased. These challenges are unlimited. No reason needs to be given for a peremptory challenge but your attorney will only be able to do this a certain number of times.

What Do Attorneys Use to Gauge Potential Bias?

Many jurors will not state if they have a bias, while others may not even be aware of their biases. Therefore, your attorney must know which questions to ask to determine the existence of hidden biases. Biases can be formed due to factors such as:

  • Life Experiences

  • Personal legal opinions

  • Societal pressure

When a case is hanging in the balance, a juror with an unconscious bias may tip things in your favor or against you. It's important to know the difference.