You have the right to a fair trial with an impartial jury as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. An impartial jury is made up of a cross-section of the public. However, a 2012 study of 700 felony trials published by The Quarterly Journal of Economics suggested that juries without at least one member of the defendant’s race often decided against the defendant.
If you are charged with a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor, you need an experienced court lawyer who can get the most impartial jury for you. The way lawyers do this is by interviewing the potential jurors so that the eventual jury will be a good representation of the community. If not, then a good defense lawyer can challenge the makeup of the jury pool.
What is a Jury Pool?
The whole collection of people who show up for jury duty is the venire or jury pool. Selections are made while you are sitting in the room by the prosecutor and defense attorney. Jurors are chosen based on their:
Ethnic background or ancestry
The next step is for the selected group to be marched into a courtroom and asked questions by the judge and attorneys. They want to know things like:
Are you an acquaintance of the defendant?
Have you ever served on a jury before?
Have you ever been a defendant in a case that went to trial?
Have you already heard about this case?
After this questioning, the lawyers argue for each jury member and two alternates among themselves. If they have any questions for the jury members, it’s done in open court so everyone can hear. Selecting an impartial jury is the best step you can have for winning a case.
What is a Jury Composition Challenge?
Jury composition challenges are made by the defense attorney. It basically claims that the jury does not represent a cross-section of the community and is therefore not impartial. A lawyer has to prove that:
A distinct group was missing from the pool, such as members of the defendant’s race
This missing or under-represented group is not reasonable
This exclusion was caused by the jury selection process
Winning a jury pool challenge is difficult and takes a long time. However, if your lawyer sees that the jury may be biased, then you have not been given a fair trial.