Getting To Know The Jury Selection Process (Voir Dire)
Jury duty isn’t exactly the most appealing source of conversation, and it will usually spark some manner of groaning. While it’s better known as “jury duty”, voir dire is the official term for when you are chosen to appear on a jury, and for the attorneys involved, it’s a very important step in the case. If you want to know more about voir dire and what lies ahead when you’re summoned, simply keep reading.
First of all, every county is going to approach the jury selection process differently. However, the main focus for attorneys remains finding a sympathetic jury, regardless of the county they are in. The process starts with potential jurors being brought into the courtroom, after which they each receive a number. How many jurors will be selected depends on the complexity of the case, and the group from which they are selected is referred to as the jury pool.
To help attorneys make their decision, they are given general information about the jurors. This information will usually entail age, whether you are married, where you work, your history with the law, etc. Thanks to this information, they can make the best possible selection.
Don’t be surprised if the attorneys request what is known as a “shuffle”. This can happen even before the attorneys address potential jury members, and it involves leaving the room and getting a new number. Naturally, this sounds like a waste of time from the jury’s point of view, but attorneys have their reasons for making this request. And each attorney is allowed to use one shuffle request during the jury selection process. When they do this, it’s part of a bigger plan and is done very strategically.
The next step is to interview the jurors, and this is done once the jurors take their seats inside the jury pool. The judge will clarify what’s going to happen and how things are going to proceed, which will differ according to judge and his or her courtroom. For the most part, each attorney gets the opportunity to question jurors, and their answers are logged with their number. The question that will be asked can vary, and they will typically include whether you know the defendant or the plaintiff for that matter.
Moving forward from the general questions, some judges might give attorneys the chance to ask more specific questions. Chances are they are follow-up questions about answers given for the general questions. For example, if you were asked about being in an auto accident, and you said yes, it might become valuable information for the attorney.
The irony is that jurors are selected as much as they are removed. Through the selection process, jurors are removed from the panel based on strategy from the attorneys. And the jurors that remain in the panel ultimately form the jury that will be used for the case.
While it might not sound exciting, it can be a very rewarding experience to serve on a jury. Plus, it gives you a much better perspective on how the legal system functions. You’ll quickly realize that every case is different in some way and that having a good lawyer on your side is important for getting the verdict you deserve.