Under the Constitution, there is a guarantee to a right to trial by jury in criminal cases. The jury has the responsibility of finding the facts of the case following a careful review and consideration of the evidence. The selection of the jury occurs in two parts.
The initial step is referred to as random selection. The state or federal district will obtain names from lists maintained by the state in the usual course of business. Such lists may consist of registered voters, a list of individuals who possess driver’s licenses, or a list of people in receipt of unemployment benefits.
When your name is taken from one of the lists, you will get a notice in the mail advising you of when you must go to court. It is mandatory that you go to court barring an emergency or important reason.
The second part of jury selection is “voir dire,” which is the procedure by which the court and the attorneys reduce the group of jurors to the twelve individuals that will determine the outcome of the case. At times, if there are too many people in the juror pool, the judge will randomly select some people, and exempt them from serving on the jury.
Usually, the judge and attorneys will conduct an interview of each juror about their background and beliefs. This can occur in the presence of the remaining jury pool, or in private. Each attorney has an opportunity to voice an objection to jurors. There are two kinds of objections. They are “peremptory challenges” and “challenges for cause.”
When a lawyer objects to a juror for cause, it is generally because of an aspect of the juror’s background that would cause them to be biased in the case. No reason is required when raising peremptory challenges. However, each side only has a certain number of such challenges. And an attorney is not permitted to raise peremptory challenges on the basis of the race or gender of possible jurors.
If you are facing criminal charges, call the criminal defense attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizo, Pappa & Casazza. They will prepare the most effective defense strategy.