If you cannot reach a resolution out of court, your case may end up in a jury trial. To prepare for that step, your lawyer and the opposing counsel will come together for jury selection.
Since those individuals will decide on the outcome of your case, it’s essential to move through the selection process properly. Fortunately, your lawyer can leverage for cause challenges and other tools to eliminate unsuitable jurors from the pool and get the right people to hear your case.
Want to learn more? Here’s what you need to know.
How Jury Selection Works
The jury selection process begins with the summons of up to sixty potential jurors. These individuals must then come down to the courtroom on the indicated date to answer questions from both lawyers.
As the lawyers ask questions, they can eliminate jurors from the pool using either peremptory or cause challenges. By the end of the process, only 12 prominent jurors will remain, plus two to three alternates. The alternates only come into the picture if any of the original jurors get excused by the judge.
At the end of this process, the jury selection is final. The lawyers cannot make any other changes to the makeup of the jury. So, they have to get it right the first time around.
Peremptory vs. For Cause Challenges
Preconceived notions, bias, and other ingrained beliefs can leave jurors positioned against your case before it even begins. For that reason, lawyers dig deep during the selection process to identify jurors who might not work well for your case. Then, they excuse those jurors one by one to build a solid jury.
Lawyers can excuse the jurors in one of two ways. The first way is through peremptory challenges, which involve the lawyer excusing the juror without cause. They do not need a reason for the excusal, but their ability to make this call is limited. In California, lawyers usually have just six peremptory challenges at their disposal.
For that reason, lawyers need to use their for-cause challenges first. As the name implies, for cause challenges are excusals given due to signs of bias from the juror. If the lawyer points out a statement that indicates bias, the judge must legally excuse the juror for cause. Lawyers have unlimited for cause challenges to ensure their clients get a fair chance in court.
Ready to Chat with a Lawyer About Your Case?
To best leverage for cause challenges, your lawyer must know the law well. Otherwise, they may miss chances to ask the right questions and point out each juror’s subtle biases. So, if you don’t want to leave things to chance, it’s best to get an experienced lawyer on your side. Fortunately, our team at Kramer Trial Lawyers is here to help. For our office, call (310) 551-0600 to schedule a free consultation.