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The constitution gives us the right to be tried by a jury of our peers. Due to this, in very serious criminal prosecutions, members of the jury are always present. Needless to say, these people need to be chosen carefully so as to ensure that both the defense and prosecution are comfortable. The jury selection process has several steps as outlined below;
1. Random selection
First of all, a group of about 12 people is chosen randomly from the jury pool. These people are then invited to the courtroom.
Here, the judge briefs them on the nature of the case, the length of the trial, the names of the parties involved, the names of the witnesses to be called and the names of all the other people involved like the lawyers, the judge, and court staff.
2. Application to be excused
Potential jurors will also be asked if they want to be excused from jury service for any reason. If you feel that you need to be excused, you will be allowed to apply for the judge to do so.
3. Voire dire
Voire dire means to speak the truth. At this stage, the lawyers from both sides will be allowed to ask the jurors if they have any prior knowledge of the case and if they have any previous experience that will make them biased or unfair during the trial.
4. Rejection of some potential jurors
If any of the lawyers feel that a juror will be prejudiced, they are allowed to request for dismissal of the juror for cause. They are allowed to do this for an unlimited number of times. However, it is up to the judge to allow or deny the request.
A potential juror may be suspected to be prejudiced if they are related to any of the opposing parties or if they work for any of them.
The lawyers are also allowed to request dismissal of a juror without cause. They are however allowed to do this a limited number of times. At this point, lawyers may seek to dismiss jurors they believe will not serve the best interest of their client.
They are however not allowed to discriminate anyone on the basis of sex or race
5. Impaneling of jurors
Once both parties have agreed on the jurors, they are sworn in by the court clerk and impaneled. Those who are not selected are dismissed.
During the trial, the jurors are expected to provide a fair and unbiased verdict. They are not allowed to discuss the case with outsiders or eve each other.
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