Whether you're dealing with a civil or a criminal proceeding, jury selection is a process that can seem mystifying. Even many attorneys prefer to work with a jury selection services firm in order to approach the task in as structured a manner possible. Let's take a look at what jury selection services providers do.
Starting with the Questionnaire
Everything in the process begins with the questionnaire that's submitted by each potential juror. The questionnaire usually includes some boilerplate questions related to the general type of trial that's planned. For example, a prospective juror for a criminal case will almost always be asked whether they know anyone who has been the victim of the crime.
During jury selection, both sides have some room to contribute to the questions that are asked. A firm that's good at the selection process will use the questionnaire to press key questions. For example, if a police officer were facing charges of excessive use of force, the defense counsel will want to ask whether a potential juror trusts the police.
Many firms now use computer processing systems to quickly assess the jurors. They can then group jurors according to their responses and try to anticipate who would represent the most sympathetic or resistant folks.
Narrowing the Pool
In most jurisdictions, the two sides in a case have a limited number of times they can toss a juror from the pool without cause. These are sort of like replay challenges in sports in the sense that you want to save them for the handful of jurors who you don't want to see seated. This starts with reviewing the questionnaire responses and then looking at whether a particular juror is a keeper, one that has to go or someone in between.
To save those challenges against jurors, an attorney really wants to use direct questioning to get the judge to toss a juror if at all possible. Using the questionnaire as a starting point, a lawyer may follow up on concerning statements. The hope is that the judge will see things their way.
Moving on to Trial
The information gathered during jury selection will inform the choices an attorney makes as a case goes to trial. Arguments can be shaped to make them more accessible to particular members of a jury. Likewise, if an undesirable juror does get seated, that juror's behavior can be more closely monitored in the hope of having them removed later.
For more information, contact a jury selection service in your area.
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