Written by attorney Theodore W. Robinson

Some Helpful Hints About How to Choose a Jury in a Criminal Trial in NY - Part 1

In New York state trials (not federal cases), we have six jurors on a Misdemeanor trial and 12 jurors on a felony trial. Of course, almost invariably today, the Judge will add at least 1 or 2 additional alternate jurors, depending upon how long the trial is anticipated to last. Usually, the longer the anticipated trial, the more alternates the Judge will direct. I've seen as many as 3 alternates for a serious felony trial. Today, the Judges are allowed to limit the amount of time each adversary gets to question the prospective jurors. Many Judges today only allow between 20-30 minutes for the first round of questioning and then reduce it as the process continues. They claim that the Judges do so much of the questioning that the participants don't need as much time to question the prospects and that's why they limit them. That usually means you barely get 2-3 minutes with each prospective juror to determine whether you want them to be part of your jury of "peers." While this limited period of time may appear to be far too little, it often works out fine because so many attorneys run out of legitimate questions and wind up boring everyone to tears. This way, there is so little time that everyone gets a question asked of them and that's what you get to decide upon. We will go into the types of challenges each side has in the next part and explain how to use jury selection most effectively.

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