Former police officer Derek Chauvin is currently facing trial Intentional homicide of the second degreeAnd Second-degree manslaughter, And Third degree murder Counts of George Floyd’s death. Floyd’s death last May sparked protests as thousands demanded a change in the country’s criminal justice system.
The jury selection process for this trial was completed after 11 days of questioning by the prosecution and defense attorney. The jury process was heavily scrutinized due to the heavy publicity associated with the trial.
In the end, 15 jurors were selected to serve on the jury. Among those seated are three black men, a black woman, two multiracial women, two white men, and six white women. But how were these jurors chosen?
Selection of the jury and “Voir Dire”
The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in criminal cases. Countries have a list of citizens they collect from various sources including voter registration and DMV. From this list, prospective jurors are chosen at random.
Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor will question the potential jurors to determine if they are a good fit to work on the case. This process is known as “telling the truth” or “telling the truth.”
This process may differ from country to country. But in general, attorneys and the judge will question the potential juror on multiple issues including the juror:
- Views and positions on some matters
- Prior knowledge of the issue
The prosecutors and defense attorneys at Chauven’s trial sent out a questionnaire to see if a potential jury could work unimpressed. The questions addressed multiple issues including whether jurors trusted the police and whether they believed the criminal justice system was treating blacks unfairly.
Lawyers can remove potential jurors from service after they have been questioned. They can remove them either for a reason or through deterministic challenges.
Removed for a reason
If a defense attorney or prosecutor believes that a potential juror is biased about a case, they may request that the juror be removed for a reason. A juror can be removed for cause in many scenarios. Some of them include whether the juror:
- He is close to both ends
- Already formed an opinion about a particular situation
- Has no financial interest in the outcome of the case
- Biased or biased against one party or the other
In most cases, both attorneys can afford an unlimited number of jurors for certain reasons.
In the Chaffin trial, a number of jurors were excused for some reason. A notable example of this was when a judge exempted two jurors who said they could not be neutral after hearing an order. $ 27 million settlement She arrived in town with the Floyd family.
Peremptory appeals allow a lawyer to release a juror without cause if he believes the potential juror will not serve his client’s best interest. Lawyers have a fixed number of peremptory challenges that they can use. In general, defense attorneys have more peremptory objections than the prosecution case.
In this particular trial, the judge gave the defense attorney fifteen peremptory strikes, and the prosecutor gave nine strikes.
In a peremptory appeal, neither party is required to give a reason for a jury to strike. This right, however, has one big exception. Lawyers cannot hit a juror based on their race. in a Batson vs Kentucky, The Supreme Court ruled that “peremptory appeals cannot be used to systematically strike jurors on the basis of their race.”
Flowers vs. Mississippi It is a notable example where the Supreme Court overturned a conviction based on a racially biased jury selection. In this case, defendant Curtis Flowers has been tried six times for the same crime. In the first four trials, the state attempted to unequivocally beat all 36 potential black jurors.
Why is jury selection important?
People who serve on a jury come with their ideas, values, and life experiences. Therefore, selecting jurors with the ability to be open-minded and impartial is critical to ensuring a fair trial.
Thus, jury selection becomes important for various reasons. It guarantees the legitimacy of the trial, that the juror is impartial, and that potential jurors will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender or ethnicity.