How A Trial Attorney Can Influence Who Sits On A Jury
Part two in a series of new jersey court rules that affect a trial attorney.
Last week, I discussed the number of jurors that a New Jersey trial attorney would select to sit on a jury in a civil (non-criminal) case. This week, I’ll discuss how a trial attorney can influence which people are selected to actually serve on the jury.
- At the outset of the trial, a large number of potential jurors will be brought to the courtroom. A small number of them will be seated in the jury box for questioning. Usually about six to eight potential jurors will sit in the box.
- For the purpose of determining whether a challenge to remove a juror should be made, the judge will question the prospective jurors in the box.A trial attorney may supplement the judge’s questioning, in the judge’s discretion.
- A trial attorney may challenge the entire jury array in writing on the ground that the jurors were not selected according to law. This rarely happens.
- A trial attorney can challenge any juror for cause. In order to remove a juror for cause, the trial attorney must show a good reason that the juror should not serve. For example, that the juror is biased, or has an interest in the outcome of the case.
- A trial attorney can also remove a certain number of jurors for any reason. He does not have to show good cause. This type of jury challenge is known as a “peremptory” challenge. In civil actions, each party is entitled to six peremptory challenges. Parties represented by the same attorney are deemed one party.
- Sometimes, multiple parties on the same side of a case are represented by different attorneys. That side would be entitled to more peremptory challenges than the opposite side. In such cases, the judge may give the opposite side an additional number of peremptory challenges. This will equalize the number of peremptory challenges for each side.
- In any case in which each side is entitled to an equal number of challenges, those challenges alternate one by one. The party suing exercises the first challenge.In any case in which there is more than one party being sued, the judge will establish the order of challenges.
- Jury selection must be conducted in open court.
- The requirement of open court jury selection does not prevent the judge from conducting the questioning of any individual juror at sidebar, or in writing.