Jury Duty, Part 2: The Selection Process

In which I am selected for jury duty.

We reported for voir dire, which is apparently a different process from the summons. Here is how that works:

From the pool of 100 of us, they call 12 names, apparently at random. The 12 people who are called on sit in the jury box and are asked questions one by one, first by the prosecution and then by the defense.

Using the questionnaires that we filled out the previous day, each lawyer asked questions that are clearly tailored with some goal in mind. Once all 12 of the jurors are questioned by all 4 lawyers, the judge asks each side if they would like to dismiss someone. They flip back and forth, dismissing jurors based on the answers to the questions, based on what they want from a juror. An example: the defense wants to get rid of people with an abundance of gun knowledge, and the prosecution wants to get rid of people who would not or could not apply the felony murder rule.

Both sides and the judge made certain to also weed out jurors who even hinted that they would participate in any sort of jury nullification.

As each person is dismissed, the court clerk calls another name and that person takes the seat in the box. The lawyers all question that new person, and dismiss as desired. Once the jury box is full and both sides stop dismissing people, the court clerk calls 6 more names. These people sit in the alternate juror seats.

The questioning process continues for these 6 new people, and once all 6 are question the dismissal process happens again. From the previous 12 jurors, 6 people are dismissed. The 6 alternate juror are then seated in the juror box.

Another 6 names are called, and they sit in the alternate seats. The whole process repeats until neither side wants to dismiss any of the 12 jurors seated in the jury box. Once that happens, the 12 jurors are sworn in and stuck.

After the swearing in, 6 more names are called to be alternates. The lawyers use the same method to weed out people they don’t want, until 3 people remain that are not dismissed. Once that happens, they are sworn in as alternate jurors, which means that they have to report for jury duty with us, but not participate in deliberation unless needed.

This entire selection process takes about 3 days total, and we get through about 75 of the 100 people before they find 15 people they want to be on the jury.

I am juror number 5.

Fun fact: after the 3rd set of people was called up, I had an 83.333% (or 4 out of 5) accuracy rate at who would be dismissed by which side, and after the 6th set I had a 100% accuracy rate. That is, for each person called on, I could accurately predict which side (if any) would dismiss them, based on the questions and answers.

The Jury Duty Saga