Jury Selection


Jury selection refers to several methods used to choose the people who will serve on a trial jury.  The Jury Selection and Service Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1861, (Jury Act) provides the judicial structure for the selection of federal juries.  It outlines qualifications a person must possess to serve as a federal juror.  The Act embodies two main principles namely, (i) random selection of potential jurors from a fair cross section of the community and (ii) all qualified citizens have the opportunity to be considered for jury service.

The names of the potential jurors are randomly selected from voters list or driving list.  They are then served with a questionnaire to determine whether they meet the legal qualifications for jury service.  Eligibility for federal jury service is dependent both upon an individual meeting the legal qualifications for service and upon the random chance of having one’s name drawn from the source lists.

Each judicial district must have a formal written plan for the selection of jurors, which provides for random selection from a fair cross section of the community in the district, and which prohibits discrimination in the selection process.  Either voter registration lists or lists of actual voters are the required source of names for federal court juries.

Selected jurors are generally subjected to a system of formal examination known as Voir dire.  Lawyers on both sides will ask a set of questions to each prospective juror to understand his/her bias.  The ultimate goal is to have jurors who are impartial and unbiased.  The lawyers may challenge any of the potential jurors that they feel should not sit on the jury for a specific reason.  The lawyers may also have the opportunity to make peremptory challenges.  They may remove a potential juror for no reason at all.  When potential jurors are removed using a peremptory challenge, there is no required disclosure of reasoning.