How Does Jury Selection In An Injury Case Work?
Your personal injury attorney will do everything he or she can, to get the evidence needed to win your case. But getting evidence isn’t the end of the preparation for an injury trial. There is another step that is arguably just as important: Picking a jury
Neutral or Not? .
On the one hand, we expect a jury to be neutral; an impartial fact finder that will go into a trial with no bias, and adjudicate the matters before it. On the other hand, you often hear of lawyers who want to pick “favorable” juries, and even experts who say they have mastered the art of predicting what a juror will do in trial.
For Cause Questioning and Elimination
Picking a jury is a process of eliminating those jurors who may be unfavorable to your side. We figure this out by asking jurors basic questions about their beliefs and backgrounds. The first step is to see if a juror can be eliminated for cause.
Some jurors just have something in their backgrounds that make them unfit to be a juror in your case. For example, if your case was a medical malpractice case, you may not want a doctor on your jury. That’s not to say a doctor can’t be impartial, but certainly, a doctor may be more hesitant to find a fellow doctor negligent.
There are all kinds of things in people’s backgrounds that may make them possibly, potentially partial, and thus, subject to being stricken from the jury for cause. They also may have inherent, deep set beliefs.
For example, if you are an injury victim, you probably wouldn’t want a juror who believes and states in questioning that “people sue each other too much.”
Both sides have the chance to strike jurors for cause. But in addition to for cause challenges, each side has the opportunity to strike jurors for no reason at all—at least, no stated reason.
These are called peremptory challenges. Although there is often some analysis behind these challenges, often jurors are stricken just because they don’t seem sympathetic, or because of nothing more than a hunch. That’s OK—for whatever reason or no reason at all, parties are allowed to get rid of jurors, for no stated reason, in peremptory challenges.
The one exception is race or gender; you cannot strike a juror because of his or her ethnic or racial background. If the other side feels that you are doing this, they can ask you why you are striking a particular juror, and a non-racially based reason must be provided.
Jury section is an inexact science. It is partially based on asking skilled, pointed questions, reading faces and body language, and predicting what people may do or believe.