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Jury Selection in a Personal Injury Case

October 26, 2014 Legal Terminology

Jury selection is an important process for any case, and a civil trial attorney will have to be vigilant about the prejudices of any jurors during the selection process, especially when a possible juror declares that a victim does not deserve any compensation. The trial attorney will have to remove such jurors from jury selection.

Ways to Exclude a Candidate from Becoming a Juror

Jury Box

A jury should always be impartial and unbiased towards either of the parties. This is critical. 

During the jury selection process, the trial attorney has two ways of removing a possible juror from being selected. One way is to use a peremptory challenge, where the trial lawyer does not have to give any reason whatsoever, for excluding that particular potential juror. A lawyer has tree opportunities to use a peremptory challenge.

Another way of removing a potential juror from being selected is “challenge for cause”. The lawyer will usually use this procedure for asking the judge to remove the juror, so that he can save the three permitted opportunities for peremptory challenges. When the lawyer uses challenge for cause, it will also be a teaching point for everybody else. Additionally, the lawyer will also be asking everybody in the room, whether they have similar beliefs.

Challenge for Cause

If we take the example where one juror declares that, no victims should be given any compensation, it is possible that particular potential juror could have tainted the whole jury pool. Therefore, now, the trial attorney will have to ask each of potential jurors whether they subscribe to similar ideas. Each of the potential jurors will have to be asked what they think about awarding compensation to an injured victim, or whether they agree to the opinion of that particular juror.

If any other potential jurors agree with this opinion, then the lawyer will have to ask them why they do so. The lawyer will use this as a teaching point and will be challenging each one of the potential jurors who subscribe to the idea of not providing compensation to an injured victim. The lawyer will have to show each of the jurors that an injured victim has all the rights to bring a lawsuit. The lawyer will further explain:

  • that if the victim is successful in showing that he is more likely right than wrong
  • that the other party had done something incorrect or was careless
  • that the carelessness was a direct cause of the injuries suffered by the victim

Then the victim is legally entitled to claim compensation for the losses and harm suffered.

The victim’s lawyer will use the opportunity of removing that particular potential juror, as a teaching point. Additionally, it is paramount to know whether the other potential jurors have the same type of beliefs or not. Even if one of the candidates declares openly that the victim should not be compensated, then it can contaminate the whole jury pool. Therefore, the lawyer will have to use challenge for cause to not only remove the juror but also to educate others.