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Asked by Jess - 7 years ago
How do lawyers choose jurors?
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Richard Level 77 / Retired Dentist
Answered 7 years ago
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Much as lawyers would like to "choose" jurors, all they can really do is eliminate a few. As you saw, the trial starts out with a large pool of potential jurors. Then the lawyers for both sides get to ask them questions and use a limited number of "challenges" to get people out of that pool. The two types of challenges are 1) challenges for cause, and 2) peremptory challenges.

A challenge for cause asks the judge to excuse a potential juror because he or she appears to be biased or unable to be fair. For example, if the potential juror says something like, "Gosh, I'm sure if the police arrested him, he must be guilty," the defense lawyer would probably rush to challenge that juror for cause. If the judge agrees, the juror is excused. There is no limit on the number of "for cause" challenges that lawyers may raise. (And judges, too, can excuse for cause on their own.)

Sometimes judges deny a challenge for cause, especially if the juror assures everyone that he will be open-minded. Is the lawyer out of luck? No. The lawyer has every right to come back to that juror later with a peremptory challenge -- which is how a lawyer gets rid of a potential juror without having to prove that the juror is unfit.

A peremptory challenge can be used to excuse a potential juror for practically any reason other than the juror's race or gender. Lawyers have a limited number of peremptory challenges, typically no more than ten or twelve.

Once all the challenges are done, the trial begins.
source: Nolo lawyer dirctory
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ilovegoogle Level 10 / Product Manager
Answered 7 years ago
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Choosing jurors is an art with its own army of high priced consultants who use a variety of tactics to pick a pool of jurors who will be sympathetic to their client's case. They want to eliminate jurors who bring clear prejudices which won't give their client's a fair trial. On the flip side, they don't mind bringing in jurors who have prejudices which will make them more sympathetic to their clients plight.

Some of the selection criteria that lawyers use are based on stereotypes or ethnography studies so they aren't always accurate. For example, in high profile cases where the defense wants to poke holes in police conduct (eg. OJ Simpson trial), lawyers were looking for jurors who were African American for two reasons. The first being the fact that OJ Simpson was African American and the second being that African Americans tend to have more direct experience or know of people who have been treated unfairly by the police.

The other thing that lawyers will look for are the backgrounds of the jurors to determine if they're likely to lean one way or the other. For example, if one of the jurors is a former police officer or has family members who are police officers, they're less likely to give your client the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, if the defendant is a police office, those people are more likely to be sympathetic.

Btw, if you're interested in how juries work, check out the movie "Runaway Jury" starring John Cusak. It's a highly dramatized and it's a sensationalized Hollywood version of a trial but it does give you an idea of what happens behind the scenes.
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