Beebe and O'Neil

Why criminal jury selection matters

Criminal defense attorneys recognize that the people that make up a jury in Connecticut could be the factor that decides whether their clients are acquitted or convicted. This is why defense attorneys play a part in determining who is chosen to serve on a jury. As a crucial part of the American justice system, a jury should be fair and impartial while weighing the evidence and arguments presented. However, if one or more of the jurors hold biases against the person being tried, the eventual decision could result in an unfair conviction.

As Chron.com explains, the jury selection stage is known as “voir dire.” During this process, potential jurors are questioned by the defense attorney and by the prosecution. Both sides will be looking for jurors that could tip the balance against them. The role of a defense attorney is to ensure that the prosecution does not sway the jury selection into the prosecution’s favor. To that end, a defense attorney is going to look for certain factors that might sway a juror against a client. These considerations will vary according to the trial.

According to the Huffington Post, attorneys may ask jurors questions pertaining to their professional backgrounds and experiences. If the trial involves medical malpractice, an attorney might have an issue with a juror who works in the medical profession and does not believe doctors commit deliberate or negligent errors while administering treatment. Similarly, in a case involving police misconduct, an attorney might question someone who was once involved in law enforcement. During the course of the questioning, the attorney is looking to uncover biases that these potential jurors might have.

The purpose of a jury is to enlist the judgment of ordinary citizens to determine innocence or guilt. This means that a juror does not need any formal legal training or experience in law. So during the voir dire process, prospective jurors are not required to be asked about their knowledge of the law. However, there are times when an attorney may secure permission from a court to ask candidates questions of law. In general though, an attorney may ask potential jurors questions that pertain to the facts of the case. 

 

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