As you prepare for a criminal trial, you may be most concerned with the jury. How can you trust the jury to make the right choice? What if the jury has some bias against you? There are a lot of understandable concerns, but understanding the jury selection process may alleviate some of your worries.
Not every person qualifies for jury service and both sets of attorneys aid in questioning potential jurors.
Who qualifies for jury service?
To qualify for jury service a person must be 18 years old, understand English and be a U.S. citizen and resident of the county. Jurors cannot be incarcerated, on parole or felony probation. The court randomly selects jurors for the process and cannot exempt anyone based on occupation, economic status, race, color, religion or any other protected class. Additionally, jurors cannot serve on more than one trial simultaneously or two trials within 12 months of each other.
How does the court select the jury?
The potential jurors will arrive at the courtroom to swear they will answer all questions truthfully. Next, the county clerk will call up groups of jurors for questioning by the judge and the attorneys. The judge will explain the case to the jurors and then ask various questions to determine whether any jurors have a bias. If a judge does not feel that a juror can act fairly, he or she will dismiss the juror.
The judge and lawyer can excuse jurors for various reasons. The process of questioning and excusing jurors occurs until the court picks 12 people.