You have been summoned to serve as a juror and have passed the administrative stage. Now, you sit in court awaiting jury selection. It was at this point that lawyers and judges were finally able to speak with panelists in person. This process is called “see say,“, translated from French, means “tell the truth”, or “see what they say”.
Jurors are seated in numerical order. How many potential jurors may participate in jury selection depends on your court. Each side, as well as the judge, can strike potential jurors. Likewise, there must be a sufficient number of potential jurors to ensure that enough jurors are selected. For example, in the state of Texas, district courts have twelve (12) jury seats, while lower courts (county courts and magistrates’ courts) have six (6) jury seats. Thus, a typical jury selection panel might consist of about 40 jurors in a district court and about 20 jurors in a lower court.
Here’s how jury selection works. The judge will make some brief opening statements about the jury selection process. The judge will then explain that each attorney has time to ask questions of the panel, either as a group or individually. Judges will emphasize that attorneys are not meddling, but are trying to understand jurors’ beliefs and feelings to ensure a fair and impartial jury is selected. Let’s be honest with each other: Every lawyer wants jurors to stand up for their case. In most cases, only judges need impartial jurors.
After the judge’s opening statement, the lawyers now take the stage, with their respective clients seated at the lawyer’s table. Usually the plaintiff’s attorney goes first, followed by the defendant’s attorney. The attorneys will each briefly outline their position and then begin asking questions of the entire panel or each juror individually. It is at this stage that jurors are most likely to be removed from the panel.
There’s an old saying circulating among my Dallas/Fort Worth colleagues: “Only the quiet jurors are chosen.” The best way to take a beating from the group is to be as vocal as possible. When asked a question, speak the truth out loud. If you have some strong opinions about certain issues in the case, or if you don’t think you can be completely impartial, it is your responsibility to let the attorney and the judge know. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. As long as you’re not being rude or sabotaging others, you shouldn’t get in trouble for expressing your honest opinions and beliefs.For example, if the case involves personal injury As a result of a car accident, don’t be afraid to let attorneys and judges know if you have a problem awarding money for “pain and suffering” or if you have a problem suing people in general. When you express your beliefs, you are bound to rub against one of the parties in the wrong way, which brings you one step closer to being eliminated from the group. Meanwhile, the quiet juror is one step closer to being selected.
After the lawyers have finished questioning, the jury is usually taken out of the courtroom. Lawyers and judges are now negotiating on the outcome of the interrogation. We now begin the “strike” phase.
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