The Importance of Jury Selection in a Trial
What do you think is the most important aspect of a jury trial? What is the Importance of Jury Selection in a Trial?
Facts, witnesses, attorney skill and party likeability all impact how a case turns out, but the most important aspect of a jury trial is completed before the lawyers even make their opening statements. As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green understand, the process of jury selection is incredibly important to the outcome of a case. With a favorable jury, even a party with a relatively weak case can be victorious. Without a favorable jury, even the strongest case can result in an adverse verdict. Ultimately, the jury decides the fate of the plaintiff and the defendant, and that is why picking who is on the jury to make that decision is so critical.
At the outset of a jury trial, a process known as voir dire takes place. In voir dire, attorneys representing both the plaintiff and the defendant are given the opportunity to question potential jurors in order to determine whether they will be able to fairly hear the case. As our personal injury lawyers know, in voir dire, the plaintiff’s attorney will try to ensure that none of the prospective jurors who wind up on the final jury are biased against the plaintiff’s position. Likewise, the defendant’s attorney will try to keep anyone who might be biased against the defendant’s position from getting on the jury. Both attorneys are going to argue, of course, that potential jurors who are friendly with or have reason to dislike either of the parties are biased and thus unable to fairly serve as a juror in the case.
But voir dire goes far beyond simple questions such as whether or not a potential juror knows one of the parties. Let’s consider a hypothetical personal injury case which is going to trial. In this scenario, Plaintiff Peter was walking across the street with his dog when he and the dog were struck by a distracted driver, Defendant Doug, working for a courier service. Peter sustained serious injuries and, unfortunately, his dog had to be put down. Peter’s claim is that he was in the cross-walk; Doug claims that Peter jumped out in the middle of the street with his dog.
- During voir dire, Plaintiff Peter’s attorney is going to look for sympathetic jurors. Among other things, Peter’s lawyer might try to find dog lovers, people who enjoy taking walks, people who have had a friend or family member hurt by a distracted driver, etc. Peter’s lawyer is going try to try to get rid of potential jurors who, say, hate dogs or who have had a family member sued (or been themselves sued) for distracted driving, as they would likely be sympathetic toward the defendant.
- On the other hand, during the jury questioning process, Defendant Doug’s lawyer is going to want to find jurors who sympathize with the courier, perhaps a potential juror whose family member works for a courier service or who has had a family member sued (or been themselves sued) in a personal injury case. Likewise, Doug’s attorney is going to want to try to get rid of potential jurors who would be likely to be sympathetic to Peter’s case, including perhaps a potential juror who is a member of PETA or another animal rights group, etc.
By and large, once a jury is set it is set. The parties are generally stuck with the jury which emerges from voir dire. This fact makes the jury selection process so important. While the judge overseeing a trial will act as the referee, it is the jury who ultimately makes the decision as to whether a defendant will be held liable or not.
At Aronberg, Aronberg & Green, our personal injury lawyers are prepared to go to trial to maximize recovery for our clients. We make sure that if and when that time comes, we have the skill and experience necessary to select a great jury.