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How Juries Selected for a Trial and How Can I Make Them Like Me?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How Juries Selected for a Trial and How Can I Make Them Like Me?

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The Jury Selection Process in Texas

The Constitution of the United States guarantees people the right to a trial by a jury when they are charged with a criminal offense. In nearly all cases, the decision of this jury will determine if the defendant is declared innocent or guilty. This means that the outcome of these cases will largely depend on how the jury views the defendant.

In some cases, it may be possible to make a good impression on the jury so that they view the defendant more favorably. While it may be against the law to directly contact and influence the members of the jury, the defendant and his or her lawyer may be able to use strategies to sway the jury’s opinion.

How Juries Are Selected

Potential jurors can be ordered to serve on a jury with a summons. This summons usually orders the potential juror to report to a courthouse for the screening process. In some cases, the juror might be allowed to be excused from jury duty if they have a valid reason. For example, they might be allowed to avoid jury service if they:

  • Have a serious medical procedure in the near future
  • Are a student with exams coming up soon
  • Are a caretaker of a person who requires constant supervision

The jurors who have no scheduling conflicts will then be asked questions by the lawyers on each side. The lawyers will question the jurors about any biases or preconceived notions that they might have about the case. This is done to make sure that the jury is composed of impartial citizens who are most likely to deliver a fair verdict.

After the questioning, the lawyers are allowed to submit challenges to the court in an effort to remove certain candidates from the juror pool. For example, a lawyer might want to remove a potential candidate from the pool if the person has been overly exposed to news about the case. A person may also be dismissed if they are physically unable to sit through the trial or mentally unable to understand the case.

In certain cases, lawyers are allowed to use peremptory challenges to remove jurors who are qualified but who may be more likely to favor the other side. However, lawyers only have a certain number of peremptory challenges per case.

Connecting With The Jury

Even though juries are instructed to be impartial and avoid bias, it is natural for jurors to try to relate to a defendant and his or her attorney. After all, jurors are only human. A juror who strives to be impartial may still be more likely to find a favorable verdict for a defendant that they feel is honest and trustworthy.

Jurors are essentially trying to figure out if a defendant is telling the truth about being not guilty of a crime. If the jurors feel that the defendant and the defense attorney are being honest, they may be more inclined to reach a verdict of not guilty.

There are several ways that a defendant and their attorney can work to improve the attitude of the jury, including:

  • Respecting the order of the court
  • Using friendly gestures, speech and body language
  • Treating witnesses fairly

Jurors have to go to a great deal of trouble in the trial process. They must be secretive about the case and some jurors may have to spend time away from work and family. This is a stressful process and jurors don’t want to feel that their time is being wasted. An attorney who drags out the proceedings or a defendant who is disruptive may make jurors annoyed and impatient.

It’s best to follow the rules of the court and show respect to all court officials.

It’s also important make eye contact with jurors and smile. Jurors want to feel that they can trust an attorney as well as a defendant. Jurors identify with people who seem similar to them and they can relate to people who seem friendly and personable.

Some movies and TV shows depict attorneys yelling at witnesses in an angry voice. While this might be an exaggeration of reality, it’s true that discussions in a trial can get heated. That’s why it’s important for attorneys to show respect to witnesses as they give their testimony. An attorney who berates witnesses might come off as unprofessional, arrogant or desperate.

Hiring an attorney who has experience in the courtroom is a great way to improve the attitude of a jury. An attorney may be able to use their personal experiences to treat the jury with respect. A jury with a favorable view of the defendant and his or her attorney may be more likely to return a favorable final verdict.

Have you been charged with a crime? Greg Tsioros is a Houston based criminal defense lawyer with the professional experience to help you in this stressful time. Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros today at (832) 752-5972.

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