How Jurors Are Picked In An Injury Case
To many people, the process of selecting a jury is somewhat of a mystery. It is sometimes reported on the news—usually in criminal cases—but the process is rarely detailed. You may know or hear that you are entitled to a “jury of your peers,” but on the other hand, you may also know that you want a jury that may be somewhat sympathetic to your case or argument. So how is a jury selected?
For Cause Challenges
The first step is for the lawyer on both sides to question jurors about issues that may affect the case, so that jurors can be stricken for cause. Some people (potential jurors) simply have things in their background that you think may work to your disadvantage, and you want to know that so you can dismiss them from the jury pool.
As an example, if you are a victim of police brutality, and one possible juror is a retired police officer, you may not want that juror serving, and you may strike that juror. If your case involves suing a trucking company that caused an accident, you may not want a juror who works as a trucker.
Jurors will also be asked basic questions about their attitudes towards injury lawsuits, large monetary verdicts, or whether they have ever sued anybody, or been sued. They will be asked whether they can make decisions neutrally.
Striking jurors for cause is an inexact science. It is a mix of intuition, and psychology—in fact, in many large trials, expert psychologists that specialize in juror behavior are used to analyze jurors. And yes, some jurors do lie, just to get out of jury duty. This is illegal, but it does happen. Skilled attorneys can often “get to the bottom of things,” and discern whether a juror may be telling less than the truth.
The parties also have what are called peremptory challenges. Unlike “for cause” challenges, peremptory challenges are where an attorney strikes a jury for no reason. No rationale needs to be provided, although certainly the parties have their own, private reasons why they may not want a particular juror on the jury panel.
When a party strikes a juror with a peremptory challenge, they don’t need to give any reason why they are striking the juror; their reason is generally private. You can simply not like the way a juror is looking at you, or their body language.
The only exception to this freedom to strike jurors is if the opposing party feels that you are striking jurors for racial reasons.
This is not allowed; you cannot try to get an all-white or all-black (or any other race) jury. You also cannot strike jurors to try to get an all male or all female jury.
If a party suspects the other side is trying to do either, they can require the other side to disclose and explain why they struck a juror. So long as a reason is given that is not race-based, the strike will be allowed.
Does your attorney know how to try your personal injury case? Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.