George Zimmerman is charged with 2nd degree murder for allegedly killing Trayvon Martin last year. Get ready for a deluge of media coverage for another Florida “crime of the century” after the Casey Anthony trial.
What exactly is jury selection or “voir dire”? “Voir dire” is the legal term for jury selection and is Latin which means “to tell the truth”. Telling the truth is extremely important in jury selection. Jury selection has also been called the ‘most important” part of a criminal jury trial.
Why is “jury selection” vital in a criminal trial? Because this is where defense attorneys and prosecutors try and seat a panel of impartial jurors. Jury selection is a science and an art that a defense attorney must be extremely skilled and adept at in order to get a person accused a fair trial and have a chance at being found Not Guilty. A criminal lawyer must be able to get prospective jurors to open up and express their true feelings about issues being tried in a criminal case. Everyone has their own experiences and biases that they bring to court. It is up to the defense attorney to find out which jurors will be open to the defense to the criminal charge. That is why it is vital that jurors tell the truth when being questioned during jury selection. Without the truth about their biases, backgrounds, and experiences there is no way to tell if the juror is “fair and impartial”. This is much more difficult than it sounds. No one wants to admit that they may have prejudices or biases and an attorney must get that information out of them. If the juror does admit that they may have a bias or a bad experience similar to the issue in the case, the juror often times wants to be seen as a good citizen who can put that bias or prejudice “out of their mind” and that they are a “fair” and bias free person. But where are the going to put this bias? It’s what makes them the person and juror they are.
Another danger in these types of high profile cases is jurors with hidden agendas. Some citizens want to get on the jury for the fame and possibly to cash in after the trial. A experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to conduct jury selection will be very personable and know how to get people to open up and express their true feelings.
Jury selection is so important because if you do not have a sworn jury panel that is open to your defense, you can not and will not win your trial. Unfortunately, people lose loved ones in tragic accidents, some of which involve alcohol. If you are on trial for DUI and all the jurors deciding whether you were guilty or not guilty lost a loved one in a DUI or alcohol related accident, do you think you have a good chance of winning that trial? Have you ever tried to get someone from one political party to switch and support the candidate in the other party? Not a chance. this is the same for jury selection. If a juror is not open to a False Confession, self-defense, mis-identification, or whatever defense to the crime you have, you will be found guilty because the juror will never accept your defense.
That is why jury selection is key to the defense of your case! You need a criminal defense attorney who knows how to pick a jury and studies the art of jury selection. A criminal lawyer also must know the case law regarding jury selection and how to get the “bad” or biased juror off your panel.
If you have been charged with a crime,
call an experienced trial attorney that knows how to select a jury to defend you in court!
Thomas C. Grajek 863-688-4606
All felony and misdemeanor crimes defended.