Jury Selection, what is it and how do lawyers in New York do it ? Today's
blog post briefly discusses what attorneys think about during jury selection
and the nuts and bolts of selecting a jury. If you have been injured due
to the negligence of someone else, call us for a free consultation and
case evaluation at 800.900.6204.
Jury selection is one of the most important parts of a civil jury trial.
In New York, there are two methods, White's or the Struck method.
If the attorneys cannot agree on the method, the Court selects the method.
Regardless of the method, counsel for the plaintiff begins questioning
the jury. In each round of selection, the exercise of challenges by either
party alternates between them and each side uses one challenge at a time.
General questions are asked of the full panel using the White method. After
general questions fill a "box" with six jurors, counsel for
the plaintiff begins asking questions of the individual jurors. The parties
then excuse jurors for cause or on consent before they exercise their
peremptory challenges. When a juror is removed from a box for cause or
on consent, that juror is immediately replaced and questioning begins
again by the plaintiff.
Once there are six cause-free jurors in the box, the parties get to exercise
peremptory challenges. What is a "cause free" juror ? a prospective
juror can be excused "for cause" if they know about the subject
matter of the case, know the parties, know the attorneys or the witnesses,
or if the prospective juror is related to a party. Prospective jurors
can also be excused if they owns shares in or are employed by an insurance
company. For any New York attorneys out there in Internet land reading
this post, you can find the technical language at CPLR 4110. For cause
challenges just mean that you as a prospective juror can be excused from
the panel without the parties being required to use their peremptory challenges.
The attorneys can also consent to excusing a prospective juror and there
are a number of reasons that attorneys would consent to excusing a juror
from serving on a jury which are too many to discuss in this post.
Each attorney is allocated three peremptory challenges for six jurors and
one additional peremptory challenge for the two alternates. Peremptory
challenges are just challenges that attorneys are permitted to use when
selecting the panel of jurors where the prospective juror is not dismissed
for cause or on consent. these challenges are when attorneys get to use
their own discretion in excusing jurors that the attorney believes will
not be favorable to their client's case. How do we do this ? There
are so many methods that attorneys use that I cannot possible discuss
all of them but I will discuss a few things I think about during jury
selection further in this blog post.
The other method of jury selection used in New York is the Struck method.
The basic idea behind the Struck method is that a panel of prospective
jurors is placed in the "box" that equals the full number of
jurors needed for the jury after all peremptory challenges are exercised,
but this is done after all consent and for cause challenges are finished.
The attorneys then begin the Voir Dire process. What is Voir Dire ? This
is when attorneys get to question prospective jurors. The first thing
every attorney will look at is the background questionnaire that is to
be completed by all prospective jurors. Don't worry, these are kept
confidential when your jury service is complete. Attorneys read over these
questionnaires with a fine tooth comb. What do we look for ? Well, there
are many different schools of thought on how to select a jury that is
favorable to your client and attorneys are required to make these decisions
on less than complete information and in a short period of time. What
I look for is someone who can identify with my client. Someone that will
understand their position in life and my client's experiences. Maybe
the juror will even think that this accident could have happened to them.
I also look for people that seem to be reasonable in their responses to
me and who are thoughtful. My approach to jury trials is pretty straight
forward and I always rely on the truth of my client's circumstances.
I want my jurors to follow what went on with my client's case and
I want them to understand what has happened to my client as a result of
the defendant's negligence. I also want jurors that appear to feel
comfortable talking to me when I question them. I am, after all, telling
them a story and I want them to listen to me and my client and follow
along with our presentation. Attorneys often use juror profiles and consider
themselves in the juror's shoes as well. A few other tips are that
attorneys should not argue the merits of their client's case during
jury selection. You will get your chance. You can describe your case to
the jurors but argument really is reserved for opening and closing statements.
While these are some of the basics concepts of jury selection, there are
often may other things that attorneys think about and consider during
and before jury selection. A few other ideas that I discuss with my clients
when we are proceeding to trial is they should be aware that they are
on trial and the jurors park their cars where my client parks. Jurors
often walk around after court is out of session and visit the same places
that everyone else goes to after work. Jurors are members of your community,
just like judges, court personnel and attorneys. Be aware of this if you
are going to trial.
In summary, jury selection is a very important process in a trial. The
public should know what we as attorneys do when selecting a jury and how
we go about it to help them make informed decisions about who they choose
as their own counsel should you find yourself in the position of needing
an attorney. The public should also know that their service as jurors
is a very important part of our service to the public. Jury service is
one of the most basic rights and duties of us as citizens of our country.
It is your chance, if you are selected for jury duty, to assist in dispute
resolution and to serve your neighbors and friends.
While I always say I hope you never need to use the services of an attorney
for a jury trial and become the "plaintiff," I know that there
are plenty of people in the world that will be injured in accidents and
need attorneys to represent them. If you find yourself in this position,
please call us at 800.900.6204 for a free case evaluation and a free consultation.
The attorneys at Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C. have over 150
years of combined experience and we'll fight for you !