Selecting a Jury
A Colorado DUI trial typically begins with jury selection. This is the process where you pick the people that will decide your case.
Jury selection begins by a group of individuals being called into the courtroom. When the people are seated in the courtroom, the judge will explain to them that some of them will be selected to serve on the jury. The judge will ask them a series of questions in order to determine whether there is anyone who should be disqualified. After the judge has finished questioning the jury, the attorneys will be allowed to question the potential jurors.
In a normal case, you will be allowed to strike 3 jurors. It is important to use your strikes carefully so that you do not eliminate someone you somewhat dislike and end up with someone that is terrible for your case. In addition to your three strikes, you will be able to eliminate an unlimited number of jurors for cause (meaning they expressed a bias or prejudice against you or your case).
In some jurisdictions, you will be free to question all of the people called into the courtroom. In other jurisdictions, you will only be able to question the people who are seated in the jury box.
Typically, the prosecutor will be able to question the jurors first. When questioning the jurors, the prosecutor will be looking for biases or prejudices that would may a person unfit to serve on your jury. When the prosecutor has finished questioning the jurors, you will have the opportunity to question the jurors.
In a typical DUI case, you will only have a few minutes (around 15-20 minutes) to question the potential jurors. The questions you ask the jurors will focus on issues that you believe are important in your case. For example, if you would like to know about the juror’s experiences and believes regarding drinking, you can ask questions to that affect. If you are interested in the juror’s religious beliefs, you can ask questions about that subject.
Some of the issues that tend to be discussed in DUI Jury Selection include:
- Opinions about Alcohol and whether someone is intoxicated
- Opinions about DUI
- Opinions about religion
- Drinking habits of individuals
- Associations with groups such as MADD or law enforcement
- The trustworthiness of law enforcement
- The usefulness of scientific evidence
- The burden of proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt
- The right of your client to remain silent
The purpose of asking questions is to find individuals that you would not want to decide your case. You are looking for people who are bad for your case and thus, should be eliminated. On the other hand, you want to try to keep people who are favorable for your case on the jury, by showing that those individuals are reasonable and would decide the case fairly.
Jury selection is as much an art as it is a science. First, you want to thoroughly determine, with your attorney, the type of jurors that would be good and bad for your case. Second, you want to determine topics of inquiry that will elicit good and bad responses for your case. Third, you want to be able to target bad jurors and expose their biases or prejudices. Ultimately, you want the jurors to admit to a bias or prejudice because they will be eliminated without the need to use one of your strikes. Then, you can save your strikes for jurors who you believe are unfavorable to your case but who have not shown a bias or prejudice that would get them automatically removed from the jury.
In the next article, we will discuss opening statements in a DUI case.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.