Jury Trials (continued)

Jury Selection

In most state cases the judge permits the lawyers to ask jurors most of the questions needed to qualify the jury; In federal court although a judge has discretion to allow the lawyer to ask questions for the most part most federal judges conduct the voir dire or jury selection process themselves.

Important jury questions involving pre trial publicity,bias based upon race or other relationships a juror may have with a defendant or witness in the case, a juror's feelings about law enforcement witnesses and their credibility and issues involving whether an entire jury panel should be stricken if one juror in answer to questioning make a a prejudicial comment are all matters skilled trial counsel should be aware of. For instance in the case of Batson v. Kentucky the Supreme Court of the United States held that the prosecutor's use of peremptory strikes (strikes to excuse a potential juror without any reason to state the cause for such removal),in even a single case to remove blacks from the jury on account of their race violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. The procedure for a "Batson" challenge is therefor of great importance for trial counsel.

Other issues like juror misconduct may be a basis for new trial. Different rules also apply to the selection of alternate jurors who are always discharged before the verdict is deliberated, as well as the rules governing the removal of a juror during trial. Communications between the judge and jury and trial counsel and jury are strictly regulated.

Anonymous Juries may be impaneled in certain circumstances and most recently in a federal case it was held that it was not error to permit the highly unusual practice of permitting the jury to ask very limited questions of a witness; this is however a unique exception to general practice in state and federal courts.

The Criminal Law Process

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