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Jury Selection Process
Old 06-21-2014, 09:49 AM   #1
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Jury Selection Process

I received my first call to potential jury duty. While I am not jumping for joy over the possibility, I am certainly willing to do it and in a responsible manner. I was curious about the screening process from anyone who has went through it. I have determined it appears they will ask you questions about impartiality and such. But do they ask in roundabout ways your political leanings? I am kind of extreme at times at both ends. I am a "hang em from a tree" and let the vultures provide burial arrangements, but on the opposite end I could personally care less if a person marries a German Shepard provided the animal doesn't mind and you don't come to my house to prove your affection. Ya, I am being a bit over the top here, but only to provide a reference point. Will personal jury viewpoints on issues be fleshed out during screening or is it just being fair, innocent until proven guilty belief, and screenings to see if you have been sued or are related to law enforcement?


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Old 06-21-2014, 11:07 AM   #2
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In my limited experience (I've only been on jury duty three times in my life), they don't want you to know too much about the matter on trial, so you can focus strictly on what you see and hear in the courtroom.

Example: I was called for a case where an auto accident victim was suing for injuries. During voir dire, a defense attorney asked if anyone in the pool had ever known anyone who needed an artificial hip. I raised my hand and was immediately shown the door.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:20 AM   #3
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I have attended jury duty many times over my lifetime, and never once was selected for a case. The majority of participants simply show up, sit around all day waiting to be called, and then get dismissed at the end of the day.

If you do get selected for a case, that is when the questions will come out about your background and beliefs. I believe both the prosecuting and defense attorneys get to interview the prospective jurors in an attempt to find the ones they believe will be most appropriate for the case.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:28 AM   #4
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Have been called up for jury duty numerous times and have never had to serve. The last time during the selection and questioning process they asked if we had any relatives that were attorneys or in law enforcement. Fortunately I have an uncle and a cousin who are attorneys and I answered in the affirmative and was not selected. I plan to use this same defense Tuesday when I go in for jury duty for the second time in two years. I know it is a civic duty but it seems like there should be a quicker process to select those who will have to serve. Pretty much shoots the day in the butt.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:29 AM   #5
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DH and I were just talking about this- without the constraints of a job I'm perfectly willing to be on a jury even for a longer trail, but probably won't make it onto one.

Two experiences: I was once thrown out on a peremptory challenge (lawyers for either side have a limited number of people they can reject "just because"). I worked for an insurance company, which the plaintiff's side didn't like even though I was in an analytical role. This was a case where someone had fallen on a construction site at a hospital and was suing for their injuries.

The second was a drunk driving case. I really liked how the attorneys conducted voir dire even though they mispronounced it as "voyer-dyer", which made me cringe. They seated the first group and were asking them if they thought a police officer's word was more credible than a regular citizen, and how they felt about the credibility of circumstantial evidence. They explained the term with a story abut coming home from work and finding that a potted plant had been knocked over and while you didn't SEE the cat knock it over, well... There were also questions about whether a family member had been arrested or convicted for drunk driving.

So, my experience has been that they don't ask you specific questions about your politics, religious leanings, your opinion on the death penalty, etc. , but they will ask questions about your attitudes that might affect your thinking on that particular case.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:31 AM   #6
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Age, gender and race are important factors in jury selection and unless you're wearing a disguise, they don't have to ask you. After that, questions that relate your personal life and life situation to the case come up. For example, I sat on a jury where a citizen was suing a municipality regarding a police incident. I was asked if I had any friends, relatives, neighbors that were police officers and that sort of thing. I was asked questions to determine how I felt about police officers. Did I ever have a negative confrontation with a police officer? Did I feel police officers ever overstepped their authority? Etc.

I did make it onto the jury. It was an extremely interesting experience that lasted almost two weeks. We eventually found for the municipality and denied compensation to the plantiff. But the decision was not a slam-dunk. We worked very hard to come to a rational decision.

If you get interviewed, be sure to be totally honest. Don't present yourself any differently than you actually are.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:46 AM   #7
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I have been called for both county and federal grand jury duty. In both cases I got the impression that the courts had already researched the jury pool and knew who they wanted to be on the jury.

With the access that the authorities have to the internet and other records, they know more about you than you know about yourself.

My guess is they do more research with grand jury pools than run-of-the mill cases.
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:53 AM   #8
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I think the screening process varies according to county.

I served once for about 1 1/2 weeks on a malpractice trial. Another time, I got picked as a potential juror but the sides settled just before the questioning of potential jurors took place.

It's funny how folks say things to try and get kicked off as a tainted juror. In the malpractice case, folks would say "I hate lawyers" or "I hate doctors". I was picked to serve and only asked a few questions by the defense (like what I did for a living and can I not prejudge and make an impartial decision?). To my surprise, the plantiff side's attorney didn't even ask me a single question.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by youbet View Post
Age, gender and race are important factors in jury selection and unless you're wearing a disguise, they don't have to ask you. After that, questions that relate your personal life and life situation to the case come up. For example, I sat on a jury where a citizen was suing a municipality regarding a police incident. I was asked if I had any friends, relatives, neighbors that were police officers and that sort of thing. I was asked questions to determine how I felt about police officers. Did I ever have a negative confrontation with a police officer? Did I feel police officers ever overstepped their authority? Etc.

I did make it onto the jury. It was an extremely interesting experience that lasted almost two weeks. We eventually found for the municipality and denied compensation to the plantiff. But the decision was not a slam-dunk. We worked very hard to come to a rational decision.

If you get interviewed, be sure to be totally honest. Don't present yourself any differently than you actually are.

I imagine you are correct. I am a 50 year old white, rural, male. I probably am guilty to at least 75% of the accompanying stereotypes.


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Old 06-21-2014, 12:30 PM   #10
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I have made it into the courtroom 3 times where I have been questioned and have been surprised at who is selected based on their answers. These are 6 person juries for crimes like drunk while driving, theft, and family violence. We never got to find who was actively rejected as, after all the questioning by prosecution and defense, they confer with the judge who then reads out the numbers of those jurors who have been selected.

For the drunk driving case the defense lawyer was obviously looking for jurors who thought the police were unfair when it came to administering the sobriety test, and that the sobriety test itself was unfair. In Texas you are not required to do a breathalyzer test or give blood or urine samples unless the accident / incident has resulted in an injury. When asked I replied yes that I did have a friend who had been injured by a drunk driver, and later answered yes to knowing a police officer, and added the extra information that he was also the friend that had been injured by a drunk driver.

I wasn't selected for the drunk driving case, but I was selected for one of the 2 family assault trials that I was in the jury pool for. It was an interesting experience that lasted 2 full days.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:31 PM   #11
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When my jury pool group went through the process they asked us our occupation and spouses occupation. If anyone in the family worked for law enforcement or was a lawyer they were eliminated. A few other questions about if you knew any of the participants on either side. Do you have any issues that would preclude participation, such as hearing or vision issues, or can't sit for a few hours, etc.

The gentleman next to me was from another country and although he spoke English very well he told them that he did not always understand spoken English, especially with a fast talker or technical details. He was eliminated.

I have been summoned for jury duty 3 times and served on a jury once. Although it's an interruption to your life and there's a lot of waiting, it was a very worthwhile experience. The system really does work and it was an interesting experience.

We convicted a really stupid lowlife who kicked in a front door to a home, not knowing the occupant was in the kitchen. He had just been released from a halfway house after serving time for another stupid lowlife breaking and entering. He was nicely dressed in the courtroom but was wearing leg chains and had an armed escort.

The unfortunate side of the whole thing was that it was very obvious that he had a court appointed attorney. That didn't influence us. He was convicted by the eyewitness victim and the police officer who pulled him over at the nearest freeway entrance.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:37 PM   #12
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I may be in the very small minority of people who would actually like to experience being on a jury at least once in my life. At age 67 I've only been called for jury duty a handful of times and never served. Only once did I make it to the voir dire stage, but the case was settled before the selection process was complete.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:38 PM   #13
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One thing that I didn't expect in the case I was a jury member on is that the police officer who was called, initially to the hospital ER, and then to the house to question and arrest the suspect, was wearing a microphone that recorded everything, so there was no doubting who said what when it came to the officer's testimony.

Recently I saw a news item on the BBC that a couple of police forces in the UK have started trialing a camera that police officers wear when attending incidents so there will be video as well sound recording.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:49 PM   #14
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I may be in the very small minority of people who would actually like to experience being on a jury at least once in my life.
I feel the same way. Someone mentioned malpractice; I'd love to serve on a malpractice case. I'm fascinated by medicine and would probably understand the issues better than most non-doctors. The plaintiff's side would be unlikely to allow me on, though- not only are my sister and an uncle doctors, but I just retired from a job as a property-casualty actuary, working mostly for insurance companies.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:50 PM   #15
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Reading the responses have made me think of another question. I potentially am in the pool for 2 months. Does this mean I will have to keep coming back every week until my time is up? If I get on one will I have to do another? I damn sure don't want to be tied up on an OJ type trial!


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Old 06-21-2014, 12:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mulligan View Post
Reading the responses have made me think of another question. I potentially am in the pool for 2 months. Does this mean I will have to keep coming back every week until my time is up? If I get on one will I have to do another? I damn sure don't want to be tied up on an OJ type trial!


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I think it really depends on your county. For me, it's a one day thing. If I get picked and serve then I gotta stay on for the length of the trial. But if I don't get picked, then I go home and am done until next time I get the jury notification card.

Most recently (about 2 years ago), I received a notification but since I had a legal case going on, was excused. I did need to provide a written letter and sent in the case info.

Hopefully, I'm now tainted for good.

I am glad that I did serve that one time. It was good experience. A combination of some humor (in the jury room, us jurors did get a chuckle at some of the antics of attorneys trying to sway our opinions) and also sad as both the plantiff's and doctor's lives where on hold for years, with no real winner, just closure.
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Old 06-21-2014, 01:03 PM   #17
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How jury calls work, Mulligan, depends on your state (were you called to state court jury duty or federal?) and can even vary among counties.

Back the first time I was called to jury duty (many years ago), you were called for a week and you had to hang around the courthouse every day for the entire week unless you were called to be on a jury. Nowadays it is usually for half a day where I live (unless you get picked of course).

I would love to be on a jury. But, as a lawyer, most other lawyers don't want to pick me to be on a jury. So, I've never gotten picked.

As for what kinds of things you might be asked (if you get called to a specific panel), it really depends upon the kind of case and where you are in the group. That is, the last case I was on a panel for I was in the back of the room (it was a very large panel. I think I was juror no. 70-something). I know that based upon the number of people on the jury (12 in this case), alternates, and peremptory strikes available to each side, it was exceedingly unlikely I would be called. There would have to be a lot of people struck for cause before they would "reach" me. So, most of the heavy questioning focused on people closer to the front.

Anyway, potential jurors are asked questions usually that would bear upon bias or prejudice that might relate to the case at hand. For example, on that panel, apparently the defendant (criminal case) was accused of drug dealing. I had the feeling from the questions asked that this was a circumstantial evidence case. So a lot of questions dealt with how people feel about circumstantial evidence, how you feel about people accused of dealing drugs (could you be fair), whether you automatically think a police officer is more credible than non-police officers, etc. On the other hand, I was once on a panel for a domestic violence case and the questions for that focused more on the issues related to domestic violence. In a civil case, then questions would be more likely to focus on matters that might relate to that kind of case. Normally, the political views of a panel member wouldn't be relevant, but I could envision cases where they might be (for example, a politician on trial or a case involving violation of election law, etc.).
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Old 06-21-2014, 01:18 PM   #18
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I should have written that Kat, it is local county. I have to call the night before to see if they want me to show up on the first date.


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Old 06-21-2014, 01:23 PM   #19
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For me, I just served on jury duty from Jan thru Apr of this year. We are called for a 4 month period. Approximately 750 are called into the pool at the same time. We were assigned numbers. We had the choice to either call the "jury hotline" to find out if our number was in the rotation for a trial (which could be a nightly call, or sometimes they would tell you when next to check back), or, we could "like" the county's FaceBook page and would automatically receive notifications regarding what numbers were due to report. We are a small, rural county and nothing much goes on here - mostly just a lot of disability hearings. My number only ended up in the rotation once in that 4-month period and I actually was picked to serve. It was for 2 disability hearings scheduled for that day. The only questions we were asked is if we knew any of the people involved and did we feel comfortable in making a decision about someone's competency.

My husband was then called for May thru Aug. His number came up in the rotation the other week, but this was for a bodily injury trial. They asked if anyone was an attorney, he raised his hand and was immediately excused.
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Old 06-21-2014, 02:19 PM   #20
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Even withing a state Tx with 1 day or 1 trial it depends greatly on the county, In Houston for the county, you pay more to park than the jury duty pay. The municipal courts at least pick up the parking as well. I now live in a rural county, and there is plenty of parking at the court house, or at the JP court. IN smaller counties they do have you call, but in Harris (houston) there is always a need for Jurors, in fact they have to calls a day (of course less than 50% turn up, since Drivers licenses are used many aliens do get called). As an side remark my father got called for jury duty 5 years after he had died, I called the jury clerk, and suggested we could have a seance but sort of thought the judge might not agree. (It seems in Tx the county and the drivers license bureau don't communicate, so that the drivers license is not canceled when the death certificate is issued)
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