Written by attorney Richard Timothy Jones

Jury selection

Elements of jury selection. Before the jury panel is brought in the attorneys will discuss any last minute motions. Then the jury will be brought in. Because the panel is larger than the jury box, the chairs at counsel table will moved such that the attorneys and defendant will have their back to the judge. During the trial, the chairs will be arranged on the other side of the table facing the judge. By tradition, the prosecution sits at the table closest to the jury box. The jurors will be brought in a numerical order. The order of their names will be random. Most judges will allow one jury shuffle.

A jury shuffle is where one of the attorneys doesn't like the current order of the jury panel. Whether to shuffle the panel is usually done after the attorneys have reviewed the jury questionnaires. After the jury panel is seated in proper order, the judge will qualify the panel. Jurors must reside in Travis County, have no felony convictions and not be presently indicted. Some jurors may be excused at this point because if child care issues, age or physical condition. The remaining members will be questioned in a process called voir dire. The prosecution goes first.

They cannot discuss the specific facts of the case. If the jury is to decide punishment, they will be questioned about the range of punishment. Depending on the type of case, the prosecution's voir dire may last from a half hour on a simple misdemeanor to several hours or days on a felony such as sexual assault or murder. Most voir dires take less than two hours. There is usually a break between the prosecution's and the defense's voir dire. The defense goes second. At the end of the questioning some jurors will be called up for individual questioning to determine if they can be fair to both sides. Some may excused at this point. The remaining potential jurors will given a brief break while the attorneys go to separate rooms.

The attorneys will strike (up to ten people in a felony case) the people they don't want on the jury. These strikes cannot be based on race but otherwise the prosecution and defense don't have to explain who they want to get rid of. The parties will turn their strikes into the judge and the first six (misdemeanors) or twelve (felonies) people left will be the jury panel. The judge will then read them some instructions. That will conclude the selection process.

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