If you have a jury trial coming up, you're probably curious about how the jurors will be chosen. Technically, they're not chosen but rather eliminated, and it will all come down to who's left at the end. During voir dire, your attorney will examine behavior, traits, and other characteristics that indicate whether someone seems biased towards the other party. Here are the six main things they examine.
Jurors who have careers in or relationships with people in law enforcement are often eliminated from the pool. This includes police officers, probation officers, and even security guards. But your attorney will also look at other friends and family members to see who they typically spend their time with. For example, if your case involves a car accident and a potential juror works as a mechanic, they may wish to have that person eliminated. This is done to prevent the juror from holding strong opinions that could negatively affect your case.
History with the Law
If a juror has a history of run-ins with the law, they will probably have a more negative viewpoint of how the judicial system works. This can include things like frequent speeding tickets, being arrested for a crime, or feeling as though they've been profiled by an officer.
Jurors are supposed to use inductive reasoning (using facts to draw a conclusion) when determining guilt or innocence in a case. But research has shown that when they deliberate, jurors will actually spend about 50% of that time talking about their own personal experiences. Therefore, attorneys work hard to be sure that no one on the jury holds strong opinions about law enforcement and how the judicial system works. They prefer that jurors be open-minded when it comes to this.
Most attorneys won't eliminate a juror just for being religious. But they will weed out those who admit to having a religious faith that prevents them from feeling like they can pass judgment on someone else.
Potential jurors who show up in a bad mood and seem generally angry don't stand a good chance of being one of the last 12 standing. Your attorney prefers someone who is happy and has a positive outlook, as they tend to get along better with others and are generally less biased.
Ability to Lead a Group
A history of leadership roles at work or within the community will be examined and taken into consideration during the jury selection process. Leaders can pull groups together and encourage a unanimous decision, and they have the confidence to disagree—something that can help prevent a hung jury. However, being a leader doesn't necessarily guarantee a person a spot on the jury.
For instance, if your attorney identifies a strong leader and they feel as though that person will be on your side during the trial, they will want to keep that person on. But the prosecution will probably want to do what they can to have that juror eliminated from the pool.
Hair and Clothing
This tends to be one of the more subjective areas of the jury selection process. But attorneys do look at how potential jurors dress and style their hair to determine what kind of person they're dealing with.
For example, if you're the plaintiff, and you're suing someone for pain and suffering, you want to have nurturing, caring, and generous jurors who are more likely to side with you. Studies have shown these types of people don't fuss over their appearance, and they tend to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes and casual shoes that have ample toe room. Their hair is styled loose and flowing. They tend to sit in relaxed positions with their arms draped over the chair. And they chat with people and just have an overall "open" demeanor.
In this case, the defense will want jurors who are less sympathetic to the plaintiff. These types tend to wear tight-fitting clothes and shoes and tend to sit with their legs and arms crossed or folded. They make little eye contact and appear tense. Their hair is carefully styled and maintained, possibly even gelled. Overall, these jurors appear closed off to other's suffering.