Every U.S. citizen charged with a serious crime is entitled to a trial by an impartial jury; jury selection is an important part of providing an impartial jury. At times, defendants and their criminal defense lawyers must sometimes challenge the selection of jurors from the jury array. Experienced criminal defense attorneys warn that there are a number of ways that improper juror selection can negatively affect a defendant’s case. With this in mind, some defendants should consider challenging the jury array when their jury is selected.
What Is A Jury Array?
A jury array is the group of potential jurors from which a jury is selected. Jury array selection should be random and without bias, as should the resulting jury. There are a number of ways that a jury array can be unintentionally discriminatory or even intentionally manipulated to influence jury selection. In these instances, a defendant can challenge the jury array in order to ensure that a fair jury hears their case.
Reasons for Challenging the Jury Array
Prior to jury selection, defendants and their criminal defense attorneys may review a list of the jury array, those summoned for jury duty. Based on this information, defendants may challenge the jury array in a under the following circumstances:
- Violation of Jury Law - There are a number of laws that must be followed in the selection of a jury array and the subsequent selection of a jury. When jury law is not followed, as in cases where jurors are excused for no excusable reason, this can affect the available pool of jurors remaining in the jury array. A complaint of violation of jury law may also be made if the court official excusing jurors is not qualified to do that.
- Discriminatory Selection or Exemption of Jurors - Another reason why a defendant might challenge a jury array is if there is a noted under or over representation of any particular class of person, including minority classes, social and economic classes, racial and religious classes, and other classes.
- Corrupt Juror Summoning - If there is suggestion that a court officer has intentionally summoned specific jurors in certain categories in such a way that it could potentially affect the outcome of the case, criminal defense attorneys urge defendants to challenge the jury array. Selection of jurors who are more or less likely to sympathize with the victim or otherwise view the defendant in a certain way is definite grounds for challenging the jury array.
How Is A Jury Array Challenged?
When a defendant and his or her criminal defense attorney find problems with the jury selected for their case, a written motion to quash the jury array can be made to the court. This must be done before any potential jurors are questioned by prosecutors or criminal defense lawyers involved with the case. A motion can also be filed orally after juror questioning has begun, only if problems with the jury array are not discovered until that point. If the motion is granted, the jury will be discharged and another jury selected.
A trial judged by an impartial jury is one of the most important constitutional rights that Americans have today. Criminal defense attorneys stress that when a jury is compromised in any way, a defendant’s rights may be compromised as well. By challenging the jury array when necessary, defendants and their criminal defense lawyers can ensure that the defendant receives the fair trial to which they are entitled.
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