Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jury Panel Selection - Part 3

So, we were led into the into the courtroom and after a bit of shuffling about, we all sat down.

The lawyers and the accused were present. The lawyers were up front and the accused was in a 3/4 glass enclosed seat in about the center of the courtroom. We all rose for the entrance of the judge and the proceedings began.

To start with, the case was introduced and the judge re-explained the procedure. I think at this point (or was it after the details...) the judge asked the defendant for his plea on the charges (guilty/not guilty). The details of the case were then described along with a list of all of the possible witnesses, probable duration and the expected time frame of the case. You are supposed to listen to all of the details/witnesses so that you can tell the judge if you happen to have a conflict of interest or some other reason you feel you couldn't be objective in listening to the case. For example, if you know one of the lawyers/witnesses, or happen to know something about the case etc you may be excluded.

Now the actual selection process was ready to roll, here is roughly the process:

15 names/juror numbers are drawn randomly from the pool. If your name is called, you walk to the front and stand beside the court officer in front of the jury box. Once all 15 names have been drawn and all are standing at the front, the actual selection starts. One by one, in the same order as they were selected, the 15 possible jurors names are read out. Before each name is read, if there is any reason for that particular potential juror to be excused, that person would motion to the court officer standing beside them. After their name was read, the court officer would then tell the judge that the potential juror had something to say, and they were given the opportunity to provide an excuse for not participating. If the person did ask to be excused, the judge would then decide immediately whether to excuse that person or not. If the person was excused they would return to their seat and await selection in the next trial. If they were not excused by the judge or they didn't request to be excused, the lawyers of both the accused and the crown then have a chance to challenge and ask that they be removed as a potential juror. In general, the lawyers didn't ask any questions of the potential jurors (this isn't Law & Order after all). One of the lawyers would just say 'challenge' or 'accept' and the other lawyer would accept or deny the challenge or accept. The lawyers never got to a point where one wanted to reject and the other didn't, so I'm not sure what would have happened in that circumstance.

If you are accepted by both lawyers... congratulations!! You are now a member of a jury! They ask you whether you want to swear on a bible or make a declaration (depending on your faith/beliefs) and you are then sworn in. You take your seat in one of the jury seats and the process continues. If a full jury and 3 alternates was not found in the first 15 selections, another group is randomly selected. This process is continues until all 12 + 3 are selected and sworn in.

In our case, there were lots of people that asked and were excluded so it took probably 40 name selections to get the 12 + 3.

More to come....

1 comment:

  1. Part 4 here: http://toddz.thenibble.org/2007/11/14/jury-panel-selection-the-finale/