Friday, June 14, 2013
According to the Miami Herald, the pool of PJs passed for cause on the issues of pretrial publicity and hardship to serve has reached 25. The lawyers have questioned 34 PJs.
Two important announcements yesterday:
(1) The jury will be sequestered during the trial, which is expected to last 2-4 weeks.
(2) The lawyers will continue to question the PJs one at a time out of the presence of the others regarding pretrial publicity and hardship to serve until a pool of 40 PJs has been passed for cause.
When that target has been reached, the lawyers will question the jurors in the presence of each other on other subjects, such as whether anyone knows any of the witnesses who will be testifying in the case, whether anyone has been a victim of a violent crime or knows someone who has been, and whether anyone works in law enforcement or knows someone who does.
The court needs to end up with a pool of 30 PJs passed for cause before the lawyers begin to exercise their peremptory challenges.
Each side has a total of 10 peremptory challenges they can exercise (6 for jurors and 1 each for 4 alternates). If both sides were to exercise all of their peremptory challenges, 20 PJs would be eliminated leaving a jury of 6 with 4 alternates.
Recall that the lawyers do not have to give a reason to support a peremptory challenge unless they challenge a person who is a member of a racial minority. The SCOTUS prohibited the use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from juries in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
You can reasonably anticipate that the State will object, if the defense uses a peremptory challenge to exclude a black PJ from the jury. If that happens, the defense will have to provide a credible reason other than race to survive the objection.
Note the occasional battles that break out when one side or the other wants to get rid of a PJ they do not like with a challenge for cause, but they cannot quite lay an adequate foundation that the PJ cannot be fair and impartial. The other side will counter that effort by doing everything possible to rehabilitate the PJ in hopes of forcing the opponent to use a peremptory challenge to get rid of the juror.
Peremptory challenges are like bullets. A lawyer is helpless when he or she runs out of peremptory challenges during jury selection.
Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.
Court resumes at 9 am EDT.
See you in court.
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