|Photo Credit: Suzy Allman|
Welcome to the letter V of the 2019 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
V is for Voir Dire, and as promised in my H is for Hung Jury post, I'll talk about the process of jury selection for a trial. Technically it's not a selection, but a process of elimination, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Voir Dire is French and literally translates to "watch saying", but the meaning is "to speak the truth" because you're supposed to answer the lawyer's (for the prosecution as well as for the defense) questions honestly so they may learn about your life experience and values.
If you're an American (or from any other country that has a comparable legal system) citizen older than 18 but younger than 70 years old, it may very well happen that one day you'll get a letter saying you need to show up at court for jury duty.
Once you're there (in some waiting area of the court building) you're part of the Venire, and you'll have to fill in a questionnaire that asks about your English skills (after all you'll have to be able to closely follow the trial and deliberate with your fellow jurors), your training and employment history, especially if you work for any government agency (in that case they can't accept you as a juror) your criminal record and your race - yes, they want to know whether you're White, Black, Hispanic or Asian.
Later they may call your name, and you'll come into the actual court room, where the process of Voir Dire happens. Depending on the case they'll ask you different questions.
In any case the judge and two sets of lawyers (prosecution and defense) want to find out who you are, what you think about certain things and how you feel about law enforcement and the death penalty (if applicable).
Not only do they want to know about yourself but about your friends or family as well.
Why? If your boyfriend or brother is a police officer, you have knowledge about how hard their job is and what crazy and violent people they have to deal with all day long, so you may be in favor of the prosecution.
Your leadership skills may be an asset. Even if you don't advertise them in your job description, they can be detected in the way you behave during this interview. You may ask counter questions or be assertive towards a fellow juror. Typically both lawyers like that because during deliberation they need jurors who can take charge and rally the rest of the group behind a unanimous decision (great for the prosecution) or you are not afraid to be the odd one out saying you disagree with everyone else, resulting in a hung jury (great for the defense).
Here's a fabulous example of a guy who lead the group to a consent:
Part One talks about the case itself and the different opinions during deliberation:
Part Two comes to a conclusion, and again, I think the guy in the Vichy shirt did a great job:
Back to how the jury is selected:
Generally both set of lawyers like to pick people who help their cause or at the very least don't hurt it.
Understandably they don't want to deal with jurors who think the justice system sucks, who are unwilling to presume the defendant's innocence, who are next door neighbors of a witness (they may be biased) who indicate that (insert race) are all scammers, drug dealers, etc. Scott Peterson's sister in law Janey claimed that the juror nicknamed Strawberry Shortcake should have been removed from the jury because she herself was a pregnant assault victim who may (and ended up doing so, strongly and loudly) favor the prosecution.
These jurors can be excluded "for cause".
Sometimes you have to get rid of a juror because they have been convicted of a felony themselves. As I mentioned earlier, they are supposed to indicate prior convictions in their juror questionnaire.
A gentleman who was a juror on Shayna Hubers' trial didn't do so. He probably didn't even think that not paying child support (and the related conviction) would disqualify him from serving on the jury, but it did. Because it was revealed only after the trial, Shayna was granted a retrial. Not that the outcome would have changed, though, she was once again found guilty and sentenced to 20 years with the possibility of parole.
Who was Shayna Hubers again? The crazy bitch who couldn't handle being dumped by her (ex-) boyfriend Ryan Poston and shot him six times at close range in his apartment in Highland Heights, Kentucky, claiming it was in self-defense. She's also a super smart young woman who graduated cum laude in psychology and is an excellent singer:
Before you leave, here's a snapshot of Mr Trump in 2015. He, too, was a juror.
|Photo Credit: David Hamburger|
|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|