The process of jury selection for a particular trial starts as soon as those individuals with realistic excuses are allowed to leave the courthouse. The remaining individuals are kept in a group and chosen from for upcoming trials. They will line you up in a particular order and send specific groups into the court room to be greeted and instructed by the Judge. These instructions are usually rather lengthy, lasting between thirty minutes and an hour.
Though standard juries only utilize 12 individuals, you will notice that there is space for as many as 14 people in the jury box to include the alternates. Alternates are chosen in case a juror is removed by the judge for misconduct or breach of restrictions.
Voir Dire – Questioning
After being lead into the courtroom, you will eventually be questioned. You will at first be sworn in, using the usual oath that commits you to tell the truth. The following questions are chosen to help decide whether or not you will be at all prejudiced in the deliberation of a particular case. If the case is in regards to a school teacher, the judge wants to make sure that no jurors are biased for or against school teacher – meaning if you are a teacher, you will likely be excused.
Additionally, the judge and attorneys will ask questions about your family and friends, ensuring that you do not know anyone in the system that would bias your decision or make it impossible to keep you impartial throughout the trial. Other questions might include whether you believe in the jury system and the fairness of law. The attorneys may also relay questions of their own that target specific traits of jurors they feel will be prejudicial; in certain cases you can expect some personal questions to be asked.
After the questioning period, the judge will excuse the group of potential jurors for a short while and start going over their answers and whether or not they are suitable for hearing the particular case or should be let go.
The attorneys for either side are also allowed a certain number of “peremptory challenges” designed to give them free choice to excuse any jurors they wish for any reason. These are often used by either side to excuse any juror who may seem detrimental to their case.
After the jury selection process is completed, the jurors will be called back into the courtroom and presented to the judge. Afterwards, they will be placed in a particular seat within the jury box. Alternatives will be chosen as well and the rest of those who reported for jury duty will be excused for the rest of the day, though they will continue calling in until their jury duty period is complete.