When a personal injury claim goes to trial, the plaintiff focuses in on the evidence and experts who will testify. This is critical evidence, and it affects the outcome of any case. However, there is another aspect that many plaintiffs do not realize just as important: Jury selection.
You will notice that your attorney’s core focus before trial is picking the jury. After all, that group of individuals is responsible for deciding your fate and the amount of compensation you can receive. Jury selection is by far one of the most important processes that can impact your case dramatically – for good or for worse.
What is the Act of Jury Selection?
Jury selection is a very complicated process. There are specific rules and procedures that both sides must adhere to. While you have the right to a jury of your peers, it is also the defendant’s right to have a jury of his or her peers, too. Each side has the right to strike or challenge jurors whom they feel do not work for their case.
Your attorney can request that a juror is stricken, but the decision is up to the presiding judge. Therefore, even if your attorney feels that one juror is biased, the judge might not excuse or replace him or her. Instead, your attorney must prove the juror’s impartiality to convince the judge for a replacement.
The Art of Voir Dire
Voir dire is a Latin term for “speak the truth,” and it is part of the jury selection process.
During this stage of jury selection, both sides can ask jurors questions and then use their answers to decide if they would be impartial for the lawsuit, and beneficial for the outcome. The plaintiff’s attorney always starts the voir dire process, with the defense going after. The plaintiff’s attorney introduces members of the jury to basic information about the case, but they do not present evidence or argue the case in any way during this time.
The lawyers ask questions related to the case to determine if there is a bias from a particular juror. After the plaintiff’s side asks questions, the defense has the same opportunity. Then, each team can request a strike of individual jurors whom they feel are inadequate for the case.
The Importance of Challenging Jurors
After the question and answer session, it is critical that attorneys perform a challenge for any juror whom they feel is bias or who will not work in favor of their case.
It is important that the lawyers present an argument as to why, and the judge will then make a ruling based on the challenge information. Judges must strike jurors who express a bias against either side, but most jurors do not claim bias. Therefore, the attorney must show why it’s felt that the juror is biased in order for the judge to dismiss him or her.
Injured? Schedule an Appointment with an Attorney Who Understands the Jury Selection Process
After your injury, the last thing you should worry about is how your jury will be selected. Instead, consult with the personal injury team from Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary. Schedule your no-obligation consultation by calling us at 509-586-7797 or requesting more information online.