One of the issues we consider when assessing a case that may go to trial is: How would a jury see the case?
What many people don’t realize is that they (through their lawyers) can actually impact the jury’s perspective of the case in a manner even more fundamental than the attorney’s actual trial presentation. Before a jury trial, using a process called voir dire, lawyers for both sides get the opportunity to ask questions to a larger group of potential jurors assembled in the courtroom, and then to strike, or eliminate, some of them from being selected as jurors. This applies to all types of jury trials, including personal injury, car accident, and contract cases, among many others we might handle.
So on what basis can attorneys strike jurors? There are some limitations, but on the whole, lawyers have significant discretion in deciding who is struck. And here in Northern Virginia, the jury pool is always rich with people from various class, economic, and professional backgrounds with differing views on certain legal conflicts.
The New York Times has a very neat tool called “Will You Be Seated on a Jury?” Click here to access it. It asks you certain questions that may be asked in an actual voir dire session, and explains how your answers may cause one side to want to remove you from the eventual jury panel.
When it comes to your case, there is no way to know for sure what the jury will do, or whether it will side with you. But if your lawyer is diligent in shaping the jury itself, you may already be halfway there.