Jury selection importance is a critical strategic element of a Georgia criminal case. While the attorneys’ opening and closing statements are extremely important parts of a jury trial, the process of voir dire gives the attorney the ability to best sift out a juror’s biases and beliefs. Jury selection originates from the French oath meaning “tell the truth” or “give a true verdict.” Jury selection’s goal is to choose a fair and unbiased jury who will be impartial when a verdict is given.
Understanding the Voir Dire Process
The first phase of a jury trial is jury selection. This is the process by which the parties select a jury for the case. In criminal cases, both the state and the defendant have the right to an individual examination of each potential juror. The state and the defendant may then challenge whether or not the person should be on the jury. The individual examination happens after the usual voir dire questions have been put by the court.
Jury Selection Importance
An attorney may ask questions of the individual juror. Any matter or thing that could show an indication of their lean, bias, or inclination on the subject matter of the case may be a topic. Just like a jury deliberation is a process of truth-finding, so is jury selection importance.
Simply put, the voir dire process is focused on screening and striking jurors for their uncovered biases. These biases are not apparent and voluntarily disclosed, so it is the job of the attorney to have them come to light during voir dire.
This is critical to both sides – but particularly a defendant accused of a crime. Any inherent bias can sway not just a juror’s decision, but the jury’s ultimate verdict. And, unfortunately, not all attorneys are skilled at the process of voir dire. Because it is the defendant’s life and liberty that is essentially at stake, it is critical to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who approaches jury selection importance in a strategic way.
Challenges to Jurors
An attorney may strike a juror by using a peremptory challenge and/or a challenge for cause.
A peremptory challenge allows the questioning attorney to strike – or excuse – a juror without a stated reason. An attorney’s number of peremptory challenges has a limit under the law. In Georgia, defendants accused of a felony have nine peremptory challenges – as does the state. If the state intends to seek the death penalty, the number of peremptory challenges increases to 15.
On the other hand, a challenge for cause does require the lawyer to state a particular reason why the potential juror has a request to have a release from jury duty. The attorney must also state what deems that juror unable to be fair or unbiased. The attorney has the right to request release, but the presiding judge determines if the person serves on the jury.
Legal Help in Georgia
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a criminal offense in Georgia, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Moffitt Law, LLC today. Our experienced lawyers will defend your rights under the law and vigorously advocate on your behalf. Do not leave your liberty to chance; contact us today for your initial, free, case evaluation.