DUI case jury selection
Most DUI attorneys will agree that the process of jury selection in DUI Cases may be the single most important aspect of the DUI trial process.
Relative to the case, no matter how good presented or how bad the prosecutor screws it up. If the jury has people biased against anybody who drinks and drives, then the defense will have an uphill battle.
The purpose of jury selection in DUI cases is to get as fair of a jury as possible. Trained lawyers say that they are looking for fair and impartial jurors. Every lawyer who is not a liar and should care about their case and client. They are looking for jurors who, although fair, will have a leaning or predisposition towards siding with them.
The number of jurors who hear a DUI case varies from state to state, and varies between misdemeanors and felonies. More serious felonies typically get more jurors than do basic misdemeanors. Local custom and the predictions of the parties as to how long the trial might take. This determines whether alternate jurors seated, and if so, how many.
Method of jury selection depends on the court
Most DUI cases are not serious enough for court clerk providing attorneys with potential juror list in advance of trial. So the use of jury consultants is somewhat limited in most cases to what actually happens in court.
Before the jury brought into courtroom, both parties handed juror master list and bio information sheets that jurors completed. The attorneys must then quickly synthesize this information as the jury brought in and seated.
Potential jurors brought in to chose from depends on case, court, and number of peremptory challenges available to each side. A peremptory challenge is ability of either side to remove a juror from the pool for any race-neutral reason. The attorney need not give reason for "strike", unless the reason challenge, motivated by prohibited factor, such as race. This typically called a Batson challenge.
Process of jury selection
Once the jurors seated and roll called, questioning begins. Usually the jurors give brief background facts on themselves. Confirm that they live in the court's jurisdiction. Then confirm whether they have ever served as a juror before.
Then, depending on the court, either the attorneys or the Judge will start asking the jurors questions. From their answers to these questions, the parties must determine which jurors to keep, which to strike using a peremptory challenge, and which jurors to challenge for cause.
A challenge for cause means that the prosecutor or defense lawyer asks the Judge to exclude a juror because that juror has shown that they can not be fair and impartial. The Judge may also do this on their own motion.
Some courts prefer that all jurors questioned at once, and only once all questions answered do the parties exercise their challenge. Other courts use a method called "strike and replace". To clarify, jurors in the jury box questioned. When one removed, the next juror takes the removed juror's place and then questioned. This continues until all parties run out of strikes or the jury is satisfactory to all.
Once the jury finalized, all empaneled and sworn in.
Typically, in cases involving alternate jurors, the identity of the alternate not determined at the completion of the case. This is so that all jurors will pay attention because they won't know until later who called on to deliberate. In other courts, the alternates designated at the beginning, and then step into seated jurors places as those jurors eliminated or excused during the trial.
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