Jury selection in a child sex case in New Jersey
This is perhaps the most difficult case for a jury selection process that a defense attorney can face in New Jersey. The vast majority of jurors may disqualify themselves as soon as they hear about the case. Luckily, a good judge with a lot of trial experience will take this into account. However, the defense attorney has to be ready to have ideas in case the judge looks to them for guidance or suggestions. After all it is your defendant whose freedom is on the line.
Before jury selection even begins, the defense attorney should have submitted a long list of questions for the jury. I always prefer a long list because many of these question will not be asked. Instead, there will be debate over which questions to ask and why. Be sure to make a record of what questions will not be asked and why. This is easily overlooked in such a trial especially if discussions are held in chambers. One way to make the process easier for the panel of prospective jurors is to only focus on the time commitment and the nature of the charges. Everyone that has an issue raises their hand and then forms a line to discuss the issue at sidebar. Most jurors will be excused and you could be left with a quarter of the jury panel or less.
Some jurors want to serve but are conflicted about their duty to serve versus their personal feelings about the allegations. Some judges can guilt trip these jurors into remaining on the case. The defense attorney must be able to get this potential juror to commit 100% to being fair and impartial. Most people cannot do so and thus, they should be excused.
Care should also be taken to listen to how the jurors respond and not just what they say. Some people seem too eager while other people seem too reluctant. Other people are hardly on the same planet with the rest of us despite correct answers to the questions. Hopefully, the judge will allow both attorneys to ask some follow up questions. This process should not be abused. It is not an invitation to interview the prospective juror at length.
During jury selection, remember to be polite to every possible juror, even those that will be leaving. Some of the people in the courtroom may be on the jury and you are just as much on trial as your client. If they have a negative opinion about you, they may have a negative opinion about everything you say. If you need help with your case, call the NJ Child Sex Crimes Lawyers today.