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Selection of a Jury

When a jury trial is about to begin, the trial court judge requests a panel of prospective jurors to be sent to the courtroom from the jury assembly room so that the jury selection process can begin. After reporting to a courtroom, the prospective jurors are first required to swear that they will truthfully answer all questions asked about their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case.

When the selection process begins, the judge speaks to the jurors, telling them the names of the people involved in the case and their attorneys and stating what the case is about. The judge and the attorneys then ask jurors questions to determine if the jurors are free of bias (prejudice) or whether there is any other reason why any of them cannot be fair and impartial. This process is called voir dire.

The law lets the judge and the lawyers excuse individual jurors from service in a particular case for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have a juror excused, he/she must use a "challenge" to excuse the juror. Challenges can be for cause or peremptory.

The process of questioning and excusing jurors continues until the final needed number of jurors are accepted for trial. The number needed is determined by the type of case and the trial court. The judge and attorneys agree that the final selected number of jurors are qualified to decide impartially and intelligently the factual issues in the case. When the selection of the jury is completed, the judge will administer the jurors an oath.

As a juror you should think seriously about the oath before taking it. The oath means you give your word to reach your verdict upon only the evidence presented in the trial and the judge's instructions about the law. You cannot consider any other evidence or instruction other than those given by the judge in the case before you. Remember that your role as a juror is as important as the judge's in making sure that justice is done.