When the attorneys go to pick jurors in your personal injury case, who actually picks the jurors who are going to sit in the front six seats and who are going to be questioned?
Process of Jury Selection
Before a medical malpractice case, accident case, or even a wrongful death case starts, there is the process of jury selection. The attorneys will be looking to seat 6 people out of a room filled with 25 or 30 people. Initially, the jury clerk will bring in these 25 or 30 people into the room with the two attorneys. The clerk will take a whole stack of names of these people and hand it to the attorneys.
Who is Questioned First?
Who decides, which one of the possible jurors will be questioned first? The attorneys will decide, and they use a drum for picking from the people who are gathered in the room. The attorneys will take the stack of names, put them in the drum, rotate the handle of the drum to make it spin, and then one of the attorneys will start picking names blindly from the drum. As each name is called, the respective person will come and occupy the indicated seat amongst the six seats. One attorney will call the first three names, followed by the attorney who will call out another three.
How are People Excused?
Once the first six persons are chosen, the attorneys will start talking and questioning them. The attorneys will also let everybody else in the room know that there is a strong likelihood that at some point during the day they also will be called to be questioned as well. Different things might be discussed and many questions can be asked by the attorneys to these six people.
Each attorney will be trying to find out jurors who are going to be most likely to rule in their favor. Based on this information, the discussion and questions are aimed at finding out prejudices, characteristic traits, predispositions, and so on of these six people who are seated in the six chairs. The people who are deemed unsuitable by the attorneys will be excused and another set of people will be called in to take their place, by turning the drum and picking names at random.
If the case is huge, the lawyer or the firm will hire a jury consultant who can read mannerisms and can help the attorney pick the jurors that will most likely prefer their side of the case. These jury consultants have proven themselves and do not often come cheap.
The six people who are being questioned can be excused by mutual agreement of both attorneys, which is quite rare, or by one attorney. However, the attorney must provide a valid reason for considering the person unfit to be a juror in the particular case. Each side is also given certain number of opportunities to reject people without assigning any reason, which is called preemptory challenge. Jury selection is strategic in any type of case; the two sides will be trying hard to select jurors who are likely to rule in their favor.